Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has predicted a "big fight" in Bahrain, after suggesting that he had not seen a car that "particularly stood out" from the field during the second day's testing at Jerez on Thursday.
The Italian, who ended the test fifth fastest, 0.8sec away from the ultimate pace set by Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, said that while it was too early to say whether his own Force India VJM03 would be a contender, he believed the battle would be closer at the front than last year.
"I have only been on the track at the same time as them when I was not in a competitive configuration. I didn't see many cars that particularly impressed me, I have to say," Liuzzi told AUTOSPORT. "I do not mean that we have a winning car, but last year it was clear that the Brawn was a step ahead since the beginning. This year I think there will be a much bigger fight in Bahrain."
Liuzzi added that a trouble-free day where he completed 80 laps had confirmed his positive first impressions of the VJM03 and expressed optimism that the car would be capable of more competitive results in 2010.
"The car seems to be born well," he said. "It reacted well today in terms of reliability and we covered around 80 laps without any big issues. We did a lot of setup changes, and tried it in a few different conditions and the car reacted really well. I like this VJM03, because it seems to be a real car, and it responds with a true answer every time we change or try something. So, all in all, it is positive feedback.
"Until we go to Bahrain, we will not really know, as we always say – but we are optimistic," Liuzzi added. "We will have lots of step forward coming for the first races, a lot of development, and the team never stops pushing and working in the aero department and I think the targets we have set are achievable. We are looking forward to Bahrain."