Sergio Perez has reflected on his 2018 Formula 1 campaign as “a very unusual year” for him and Force India as an era draws to a close in Abu Dhabi.

With the Silverstone-based squad struggling financially at the start of the 2018 season, despite consecutive fourth place finishes in the F1 world constructors’ standings, Perez was a key part of Force India’s self-enforced administration having been asked ‘to save the team’.

As the team found fresh backers in a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams F1 driver Lance Stroll, the F1 squad came back from the brink but lost its constructors’ points as a result of going into administration and effectively starting as a new team.

Despite only scoring team points as Racing Point Force India since the Belgium Grand Prix, Perez’s squad has climbed to seventh in the F1 constructors’ standings with a six-point gap over Sauber ahead of the 2018 season finale.

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The Mexican driver, who has re-signed for 2019, has described this year as “the most complicated season of my career” given the off-track issues but is optimistic about the future.

“Abu Dhabi will be the closing chapter of a very unusual year for both me and the team,” Perez said. “It was probably the most complicated season of my career, having to deal with so many things happening inside and outside the cockpit.

“The final race of the year is the opportunity to look back at the work we have done in the last twelve months and I am proud and grateful to everyone working back at the factory, in the garage, and in the hospitality.

“This team never stops fighting; we never stop working and now we are looking at a very promising future. I am really happy to be part of this family and I am already looking forward to 2019.”

Despite the turbulent season Perez still feels targeting seventh place, and best of the midfield F1 drivers, is possible as he hopes to overturn an 11-point deficit to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg at the Yas Marina.

It effectively means Perez would need to finish a minimum of fourth place in Abu Dhabi, or higher depending on Hulkenberg’s position, with the Mexican’s best career result at the Yas Marina circuit being fifth place in 2015.

“[Abu Dhabi] is a track where we have been competitive for the last few years and I would love to end the season with a strong result,” he said. “I am still aiming for seventh place in the drivers’ championship.

“I know it is going to be hard, but on Sunday anything can happen and I want to be ready if the chance is there. The team is also aiming for sixth place in the constructors’ so we need to deliver a perfect weekend.”

Force India trails McLaren by 14 points in the fight for sixth place in the F1 teams’ championship, with Sauber six points back in eighth.

Perez remains the only driver outside of the top three teams to reach the podium in 2018 with his third-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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