Adrian Sutil has said he is proud of the performance of Force India at the start of the season - after breaking into the top ten on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Force India ended last season strongly, but there was no guarantee that it would be able to keep up the momentum heading into this campaign. However, strong lap times from Sutil in particular during qualifying showed the VJM-03 has improved over last year's model and left the team firmly in contention for regular points.
"We had a great step in the last few years," said Sutil, who qualified tenth as the only driver in Q3 to have opted for the medium-compound tires. "So this year is the strongest start for us – and I am proud of what we have achieved. We came from the back end of the grid, and made ourselves looks very good last season already.
"It was a little bit up and down and not consistent, so therefore we want to improve on that front. But we did a great job over the winter no question, and we are one of those teams who everyone expects to be in the top10 –which is a great achievement from last year where we were 16th here on the grid and probably far off the pace."
Sutil is hoping his tire choice will provide an advantage in the race – especially amid uncertainty about how long the cars ahead of him are able to keep their super-soft tires in shape.
"I hope I have a benefit," he said. "For sure the life is much longer on those tires. It depends on the grip situation in the early stages of the race. I am expecting a little bit of a bad circuit for the first five to 10 laps, as in the past it was always tricky. But then it should be OK to drive and then the super-soft will work.
"But the critical area will be the first few laps where you can lose or gain quite a lot if you overheat the tires – the supersoft especially. They degrade pretty quickly and start graining."