Sergio Perez says his difficult season at McLaren came at "the worst possible moment", because the dip in the Formula 1 team's fortunes meant he couldn't realise his full potential.
The Mexican joined the Woking-based squad off the back of an excellent sophomore campaign with Sauber in 2012, during which he scored three podiums.
But McLaren went on to endure its first winless year since 2006 with the recalcitrant MP4-28, and Perez was replaced by rookie Kevin Magnussen for this season having been well-beaten in the drivers' championship by team-mate Jenson Button.
Perez has since gone on to add a fourth podium to his career tally for Force India, and deputy team-principal Bob Fernley suggested McLaren had underrated Perez during his year at Woking.
Perez stopped short of agreeing with Fernley's comments, but reckons the VJM07 he is driving this season is allowing him to better harness his abilities than the McLaren he drove last year.
"I think that's a question for them," said Perez, when asked by AUTOSPORT if he felt McLaren had underrated him.
"I'm very happy here [at Force India], very comfortable, very motivated as well.
"When you have a car in which you can show your potential weekend after weekend, it just puts you on another level as a driver.
"I didn't find that at McLaren, because of the difficult season we had.
"I probably arrived at the worst possible moment."
CHANGE OF BEHAVIOUR
Perez also admits he initially took the wrong attitude to the Woking team's struggles because he was convinced McLaren would make him a regular frontrunner.
"I didn't act in the best possible way because I was really frustrated," Perez told AUTOSPORT.
"One of the mistakes I made was frustrating myself rather than taking the best out of the situation.
"When I went into McLaren I was expecting to fight for the title and was really, really hungry.
"Then, I realised that I was doing even worse than when I was at Sauber.
"The car was so difficult to drive in the first half the year; it wasn't just a bad car, it was a really inconsistent car - definitely the most inconsistent car I've had in my career in Formula 1.
"It was difficult for me at McLaren, it hurt me a lot, but I learnt a lot [and] I'm sure that it will help me a lot in my [future] career."
2013 v 2014 COMPARISON
Sergio Perez's F1 record across the first 11 races of last year compared to the first 11 of this campaign
Championship position: 12th
Best finish: 6th
Best qualifying: 7th
2014 (Force India)
Championship position: 11th
Best finish: 3rd
Best qualifying: 4th