Force India is confident it can find big performance steps at upcoming races despite its slow start to the season at the Australian Grand Prix.
Melbourne was Force India’s first race without a point since Monaco last season and seemed to confirm pre-season assumptions the team has dropped down the pecking order. However, there was a big difference between the car that went testing in Barcelona and the one that arrived at the season opener at Albert Park.
Chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer is confident Force India will move back up the order soon.
“It’s business as usual in terms of developing the car,” he said. “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.”
Australia hinted at a three-way fight for fourth position this season between Renault, McLaren and 2018 surprise package Haas. Szafnauer has no doubts Force India can add its own name to the fight.
“Testing showed us that the midfield has closed up considerably, so there were no big shocks in Melbourne. 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.”