Force India has made a clear step forward with its 2013 car, according to its 2012 reserve driver Jules Bianchi.
Bianchi, a leading contender to move up to a race seat with the team for this year, delivered some impressive lap times during last week's test at Jerez. The Frenchman, who set the second-fastest time when he drove the new VJM06 on the final day, has no doubt the car is a step forward from the one that challenged McLaren for victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.
"I could feel the progress already," Bianchi said. "If you look at last year, when I came here and drove the car for the first time, this year I think we're further ahead. So it's a very good start.
"We are continuing from last year. The car is growing up well and we're moving on, so it's really nice."
Paul di Resta was equally upbeat about the early impressions of the VJM06, but was more cautious about whether such progress would lead to a move up the grid – especially with other teams appearing to have moved forward as well.
"Of course you're going to say it was far better than it was, but I think everybody is further up the road," he said. "I can certainly say we're positive, and we're getting some miles under the car. We are in better shape than we were at this point, but come Melbourne, the goal is to be better and that's what we're set out to achieve. But we are not going to predict anything because Formula 1 isn't a natural world to be in."