Sergio Perez says ongoing financial issues are holding back Force India’s development and preventing the Formula 1 team from bringing as many upgrades as it would have liked in 2018.

Speculation about the future of the Silverstone-based outfit has been rife in recent months, with rumours linking the team to buy-out offers from British energy drinks company Rich Energy and Michael Andretti after the Andretti Autosport owner was seen in the Montreal paddock during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

Founder Vijay Mallya recently stepped down from his role as a director at Force India as he continues to fight extradition to India amid accusations of financial irregularities.

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Perez revealed Force India’s ongoing off-track financial situation has forced the team to postpone a number of updates so far this season.

“We were expecting more to be honest,” the Mexican told reporters on Thursday’s media day ahead of this weekend’s returning French Grand Prix. “I’m happy that we’re still in the fight with the midfield group. But we certainly were expecting more upgrades than we’re having at the moment.

“I mean we had the upgrades, but there have been some issues financially that we just - they were held back, and given how close the midfield group is, it’s important that you try to bring as many as you can.”

Force India has faced a tough start to the season as it looks to defend the fourth place it has occupied in the constructors’ championship for the past two years. But recent improvements and four consecutive points finishes, including a shock podium in Baku, has seen the team move up to sixth in the standings.

It remains 18 points adrift of current midfield leaders Renault and Perez believes a step in performance from additional upgrades could bring the team within touching distance of the French manufacturer. Force India was understood to be bringing further updates to Paul Ricard but such plans have been put on hold.

“We were not able to bring the upgrade we were hoping to bring for this weekend that will probably get us there,” Perez said. “I think Renault have been the most consistent in the midfield at the moment, but we’re not far from them.

"A step in performance will mean a lot. I don’t think they’re dominating at the moment. They’re certainly the most consistent, right there at the top of the midfield, but it’s a long season ahead. If we’re able to bring some performance in the next couple of races, then it can change.”

When asked if he was enduring the toughest spell he has had during his five-year spell with Force India, Perez replied: “I think so. I think we’ve had a couple of months that they have been a bit tough. But the team does pretty well with those situations.

“There are no guarantees that things are going to turn around, and all of a sudden we will be in a better position. I just hope that things can be resolved quicker within the team and we can have upgrades soon.

“I strongly believe in this team,” he added. “I’ve been here five years, and I always believe there is things coming out better. At the moment it’s probably the time that the future, it’s a little bit uncertain, but it can be very promising.”

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