Sergio Perez thinks Force India is heading in to the Formula 1 season 'far away' from the form it needs for podium finishes – but believes it will come on strong later in the campaign.
The Silverstone-based outfit plans for some ambitious upgrades for its car in Bahrain and Spain that it hopes will allow it to challenge Williams and Red Bull in the chasing pack behind Mercedes and Ferrari.
But Perez believes that until that new package arrives, things will be more difficult – which is why he says just getting points in Australia this weekend will be a positive.
When asked on Tuesday at a media event in Melbourne about whether he felt a podium was possible, Perez said: “I'm not that confident. Right now we are quite far from that. But I am confident we can manage a couple of good points for the team.
“The updates look promising as always, but once they come to track, it is another story. Hopefully this weekend we can start the year with a couple of good points.
“Testing didn't go that good to me, but I am confident we can be fighting for good points this weekend.”
No dark horse win
Although Leicester City's form in the English Premier League has proven that sporting fairy tales are possible, Perez is sceptical about Force India pulling off similar shock success.
“Unfortunately it is very strange F1 when you compare it to football,” he said. “Although in football you have a lot of human forces, in F1 there is a certain load the car can do and just by numbers it is not possible to beat for example Mercedes.
“But there can be certain circumstances that can give us an opportunity to do probably a victory. I really hope that we can be fighting for podiums, but at the moment we are far from that.
“I think we are very close to the position we left last year, so I think if we have a good start, and manage to get a couple of points, it can turn into a good season.”
Perez also said that the team remained fully behind its boss Vijay Mallya, who has faced legal issues in India over recent days.
“Vijay is a tremendous guy,” said Perez. “He has done so much for the sport – not only for our team.
“F1 needs people like Vijay. Probably yes he is going through certain difficult times, but he has all the support from the team, from us and we look forward to seeing him soon at the race track.”