Sergio Perez has said seventh in the Formula 1 World Championship standings is the maximum he could achieve in a season where the gap to the top three teams widened.

The Mexican driver is likely to take seventh in the drivers' championship, currently 11 points ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon, with Force India having once again achieved fourth in the constructors' standings.

Solidly 'best of the rest,' Perez says that the gap to the top teams was simply too big to do more - and that they were fundamentally racing in different categories.

“The gap to the top three teams this year has been a bit disappointing,” Perez said. “I think this year more than ever there were two categories in Formula 1, with the first top three teams and then the rest of us.

“So we can say we won the championship in our category.”

Force India felt that conflict between their drivers was affecting the team's ability to score points earlier this season, putting in 'rules of engagement' to prevent clashes.

Perez agreed that they had lost out on potential points: “I think the season in general has been a good year with some ups and downs throughout the season. I think probably we should have plenty more points by now.

“The team has done an incredible job. It's the second year in a row we've finished fourth. So in that regard, I think we can be quite happy.

“I think we have maximised the potential in terms of the final result. As you say, I think finishing seventh in the championship once again, it's a good achievement. From my side, I think it's pretty much the maximum I could get in terms of positions. So it's been a good year."

If Perez finishes 7th for the second year running, he would potentially be hard placed to do more next year - he said this year felt less of an achievement, having missed out on a podium finish but felt that he had "done his job".

“If you look back at last year, last year was a really strong year for me. Not having the podium probably takes away something of the achievement this year.”