Sergio Perez insists Force India can still overhaul rivals Renault in Formula 1’s tight midfield battle in order to successfully defend fourth place in the constructors’ championship. 

Renault currently occupies fourth spot in the standings having racked up a total of 62 points following a string of consecutive double points finishes, while Force India sits 34 points adrift in sixth place after a tough start to the season.

The Silverstone-based squad has held the ‘best of the rest’ title behind F1’s leading three teams for the past two years but has endured a testing campaign so far in 2018. 

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But Perez remains confident his team can bounce back from its first double retirement in nearly two years in France to turnaround the shape of the midfield fight, starting at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. 

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think we can still beat Renault,” Perez said. “I think if we improve in the next couple of races a bit more, the margin is not that far at the moment. 

“Its clear that they have been the most consistent and probably the benchmark right now in the midfield. But I don’t think they are too far ahead. If we are able to speed up our rate of progress I think we can get them still. It’s a long season ahead.

“They’ve been the most consistent team but they are not in another league,” he added. “They are quite reachable. It’s just a matter of us speeding up a bit the upgrades and then we can be in the fight again. 

“I think having a good two races for the team will change the history. It would close the gap. I think the gap is not too big at the moment.”

The Mexican believes Force India still has the potential to “change the story” of the midfield fight, providing it can continue to improve its 2018 challenger. 

“I’m more concerned about improving the car, being able to bring the upgrades we need as soon as possible, because for a while we kind of got stuck,” he explained. 

“We were developing the car and then we got stuck, while people just keep improving their cars. But the gaps are not big, so whatever you can do from one race to another, it can change the story of the midfield.”

Prior to the French Grand Prix, Perez revealed Force India’s ongoing financial issues had impacted on the team’s rate of development, forcing the team to postpone a planned upgrade package. 

When asked for further clarification on the matter, Perez replied: “It is not a big thing actually. All the programmes are still running and all the focus is still under development. We have a long season ahead and we are trying to make the most of it.”

Perez revealed his team will be running “some” of those updates on its VJM11 this weekend. 

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