Sergio Perez expects the Haas Formula 1 team to be a midfield challenger from the outset of its first year in the sport, thanks to its links with Ferrari.
The American squad, owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team co-owner Gene Haas, will join the F1 grid this year using Ferrari power units and other components as part of a wide-ranging technical alliance.
Force India driver Perez reckons the North Carolina-based outfit's collaboration with Ferrari will make it a rival for his team right from the start.
"Definitively. I think Haas can be a strong challenger," said Perez. "They are going to be up there fighting with us straight away.
"I think having a strong link with Ferrari definitely is going to help them a lot. It's going to give them a lot of direction, so I expect them to be a good team straight away."
Haas will have Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez as its drivers for its maiden year in F1, the Frenchman having left the Lotus team amid uncertainty over its future.
Perez reckons former Lotus driver Grosjean will face a huge challenge at Haas, but says the move could end up paying dividends.
"It's a big challenge to go for a new team," he said. "At the same time he knows he was not going to win the championship where he was, so I was not really surprised.
"It's [about] looking for new targets and, who knows, it can be the right decision for his career."