Paul di Resta said his 14th place in Melbourne qualifying was better than he had expected for his first grand prix, and believes a return to the top 10 is not far away for Force India.
The team's testing form had been disappointing, with di Resta's teammate Adrian Sutil openly admitting that Force India had not made the progress it had hoped for over the winter. But di Resta felt the outcome of qualifying in Australia was very encouraging.
"I think I would have been pretty satisfied with 14th given our relative performance over the winter," he said. "This weekend we've gone in a good direction, almost better than predicted, and I managed to get 14th."
He also believes the 0.8sec gap from his time to a top-10 spot would have been smaller had he got the maximum out of the car.
"If you take everything into account it's about four or five tenths, so it's reachable," di Resta said. "Certainly there is new stuff coming that should give us big performance gains."
He also expects the team to be more competitive in race trim than it was in qualifying.
"Long-run wise, we've looked closer to our competitors with the extra fuel on board, conserving the tires doesn't seem to be too bad. We're in a reasonable position for tomorrow," said the Scot.
Di Resta was pleased to out-qualify Sutil, who was 16th after a dramatic spin, but played down the relevance of the achievement.
"I've been relatively competitive against him. He obviously spun, but at the same time you have got to finish the lap," said di Resta. "I made a mistake as well, but got away with it and lost three tenths or something. It would have been quite close between us, and it shows that we are both working and going in the same direction.
"You've got to stay focused because I've got more guys than just Adrian to beat."