Adrian Sutil believes his Force India team can fight to get into the top five at the Australian Grand Prix following a strong start to the season in Bahrain.
The German and teammate Tonio Liuzzi were a force to be reckoned with during the Sakhir weekend, although Sutil's chances of a good result were hampered after he spun on the opening lap. Liuzzi went on to score two points for ninth place. Now Sutil believes Force India can be even stronger in Melbourne this weekend.
"I think it was a very good start to the season," said Sutil. "We were very competitive in free practice, I was quickest in FP1, and then again in qualifying where both Tonio and myself were in the top 12. Last year we didn't get through to Q2 in Bahrain so to come out and be in the top 12 is really positive.
"Everything went well until the start of the race for me and then I dropped back down the field but from the team perspective at least one car got into the points. But now we want to go even higher in Australia. I think there is still potential to improve everything and get close to the top five or six."
Liuzzi also reckons there is more to come from the Silverstone-based squad.
"Overall the whole weekend was positive," he said. "We learned a lot about the tires and how they perform in the warm temperatures and also how far we can push the fuel in the race. I was a bit disappointed with qualifying in that we never got a clear lap, but the race was encouraging and was a great result for the team and myself.
"The team has worked so hard over the winter to find improvements and never gave up pushing, so to get two points in the first race is fantastic. They are a team that is focused, knows what they are doing and how to get there so they really deserve it to have good results on a regular basis. This is just the start."
Test and reserve driver Paul di Resta will take to the track in first practice for his outing as a Friday driver, the Scot replacing Sutil.
"I am excited, for sure," said di Resta. "Given the pace of the car in Bahrain it's a great opportunity for me at this stage. I've never been to Melbourne but I'll walk the track with the engineers on the Wednesday ahead of the race and work with them to be able to do some useful work during the session.
"At the end of the day, I'm not going to come out and try and set fastest times – it's about feeding my information back into the race schedule, helping the team and learning as much as I can. If I set a good time, great, but we need to approach this as a team as well and work through our program."