Sergio Perez has cast doubt on Force India’s ability to keep hold of fourth place for a third consecutive season in the Formula 1 world constructors’ championship.

The Mexican driver endured a frustrating first pre-season F1 test at Circuit de Catalunya when his debut day in the VJM11 was washed out by snow before getting his belated first experience with the new Force India car on the final day notching up 65 laps – leaving his total laps complete at the first test as the second fewest of all full-time F1 drivers.

Despite the debut test with the Force India leaving him “smiling”, Perez is cautious about Force India’s chances of following up its back-to-back best-ever F1 seasons with fourth place finishes in the world constructors’ championship.

“I think McLaren is one definitely to watch out for and also Renault as they’ve been improving a lot,” Perez said. “I also strongly believe in Force India so it is going to be a tough battle in the midfield and hopefully we can race a lot closer to the top three teams this.

“After three months away from the track, it’s always a special moment when you feel the power of an F1 car again. It really makes you smile.

“It’s just a shame the weather has been so poor this week. It’s limited our mileage and made things a bit more difficult. I think next week will give me a better idea of what we can expect when we arrive in Melbourne.”

Perez feels Force India’s strong power unit partnership with Mercedes can give the team an edge on its Renault-powered rivals with better performance and reliability going on each manufacturers' form from 2017.

“I I think it is something that everyone has worked hard on, trying to get to the end of the year with three engines, which sounds very little from what we’ve been having in the past,” he said. “Mercedes has been strong on the reliability so I hope that can make a difference. Having not to turn down the engine so much will hopefully make a difference.”