The Force India Formula 1 team is yet to show its ‘true performance’, according to Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer.
It comes after a difficult season opener at the Australian Grand Prix for the Silverstone-based operation, with the team leaving Albert Park on zero points and sitting sixth in the constructors standings.
Sergio Perez was the highest finisher for Force India, the Mexican heading team mate Esteban Ocon home in 11th and 12th respectively.
The team attributed its low Melbourne finishing positions on the fact the midfield is extremely close, however remain confident they are ahead in the development race compared to others.
With new a new front wing due to make an appearance in Bahrain, the team hopes it will give them an aerodynamic advantage at what is an aero dependent circuit and help push them up the field and into the points paying positions.
“The race pace was stronger than our qualifying speed (in Melbourne), but without track position we couldn’t really show our true performance,” said Szafnauer.
“It’s business as usual in terms of developing the car. We’ve got a new front wing coming for Bahrain, which will complement the upgrades we introduced in Melbourne.
“The car we have now is totally different from the spec we used during testing and we’re still on a learning curve.
“There is huge development potential with this new aerodynamic platform and we have things in the pipeline, which will bring performance steps in the first quarter of the season.”
An impressive 2017 season saw Force India take a fourth place in the constructors standings, topping every team aside from the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Szafnauer maintains that while the midfield may be far more competitive this year, the team’s goal is to retain its fourth place in the constructors come season end.
“Testing showed us that the midfield has closed up considerably, so there were no big shocks in Melbourne,” added Szafnauer.
“I think the points will be spread among the teams more evenly this year and retaining fourth place is going to be a big task. But we’ve only had one race and things can change very quickly in Formula One.
“The development race is only just beginning and it’s where you end the season that counts. Last year we out-developed the teams around us and we have to do the same this year.
“Our goal is to defend our fourth place and we will be fighting hard to get back up there.”
Perez mirrors Szafnauer’s view, and is confident in the direction the team is heading despite the slow start.
“It was difficult to overtake in Melbourne, but Bahrain should be a bit easier because it’s a more traditional track,” said Perez.
“We’ve got to be targeting points this weekend. Melbourne showed just how close all the teams are in the middle of the grid, so it’s especially important to have a clean weekend and maximise every session.
“The development race will be very intense this year, but I know we have good things coming. We need to do what we have done in the last few years by making improvements to the car at each race.
“We’ve already made a step forward since pre-season testing so we need to keep working in the same direction.”