Force India believes that fifth place in the constructors' championship is a realistic goal for the 2010 season.
The team had a breakout year in 2009, taking its first pole position and podium at Spa with Giancarlo Fisichella, and Adrian Sutil qualifying second at Monza and third at Interlagos. But its pace was inconsistent and it was only ninth in the teams' standings. The VJM03 has made a strong start to preseason testing and the team is confident that it can challenge more regularly this year.
With Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes expected to set the pace at the front of the grid, the battle for fifth is likely to be between Sauber, Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso and Force India.
"In the World Championship, if we're fifth or sixth – above the median – that would be a successful season," said Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. "We finished ninth last year, and if we can move up another three or four positions, we're on the right track.
"We'll try to continue on the same path where we finished [last] season, so at the start of this season we should be much stronger than we were at the start of last season. With that should come regular points finishes and the occasional podium."
The team has worked hard to improve its high downforce performance this year, an area in which it struggled in 2009. Szafnauer is hopeful this can be achieved without sacrificing its performance in low-downforce trim.
"We tried over the winter to enhance the places where we were deficient last year without losing the places we were very good," he said. "Can we repeat it? That's very much dependent on what our competition does.
"However, we did focus on not losing the aero efficiency that we had so there is every possibility that we will be strong on those circuits."
Full Q & A with Otmar Szafnauer