Nico Hulkenberg is expecting the midfield battle to be just as tight in China this weekend as it was in the opening two races of 2012.
The German's Force India team banked nine points in Australia and Malaysia, but on raw pace appears to be one of the weaker midfield outfits despite Hulkenberg making Q3 in Melbourne.
But Hulkenberg is confident that Force India can still fight for points this weekend despite being behind the likes of Sauber and Williams on speed.
"In winter testing, we were very close together and we still are," said Hulkenberg. "[The gap] is not much, it is only one, two or three tenths, so we are not totally out of reach.
"As we saw in Malaysia, on a good day you can be around the top 10 and on a bad day, you can be 16th or 17th. That shows how close it is."
Hulkenberg confirmed that Force India will try out some car upgrades during Friday practice.
But he refused to divulge any detail about the nature of the new parts and the potential time gain.
"We just have to keep our heads down and maximise our performance each weekend and work hard on the car and the updates," said Hulkenberg.
After the Malaysian Grand Prix, deputy team principal Bob Fernley admitted that he does not expect his team to make a big stride forward until the Mugello test at the start of May.