Adrian Sutil said he was encouraged by Force India's ability to dice with the likes of McLaren and Brawn in the Turkish Grand Prix, even though he could only finish 17th.
The German lost out in the midfield squabbles, but was encouraged by his car's race pace nevertheless.
"Perhaps we had hoped for more from 15th on the grid," he said. "I lost a couple of places at the start but was able to get them back quickly.
"The race pace was quite good though and I could have some exciting battles on track with a McLaren and a Brawn, which was great. It was an interesting race, the car balance and the race pace were pretty good. Only the result was not as we would have liked, but it's been quite a positive weekend overall."
He played down the brush with Rubens Barrichello at the final corner that left the Brawn with a mangled front wing.
"It was not a real problem with Barrichello," said Sutil. "He touched me once through a corner but I was just defending position."
Team boss Vijay Mallya agreed that there were grounds for optimism after the Istanbul race, despite the result being little to cheer about on paper.
"I think we hoped for slightly more from this race, but the overall weekend performance has consolidated the steps forward we took in Monaco," he said.
"We've got through to Q2 for the second race in a row and Adrian drove a very competitive race, particularly on his first and second stints.
"We can be encouraged by this team performance however and also in the knowledge that we have some significant upgrades coming through for Silverstone in a couple of weeks' time."
Force India's second driver Giancarlo Fisichella was an early retirement with brake problems.