Force India is expecting to be near the back of the grid at next weekend's Melbourne season opener.
The Silverstone-based team's 2015 car was severely delayed, only making its debut at the final winter test last week.
Force India finished the 2014 season a strong sixth overall, just behind grandee McLaren, but technical boss Andrew Green admits 2015 will be more difficult because of the two missed tests at Jerez and Barcelona.
He said the team has been unable to "fine-tune" the set-up of the VJM08 yet.
"The other teams are a step ahead of us," said Green, "so it's not ideal.
"It will be difficult for us to get into Q2" in Melbourne, he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"But I think points on Sunday are possible. We understand these new tyres well, and we are able to rely on the (Mercedes) engine in the race," Green added.
Beyond that, Force India can begin to build up speed for the rest of the season, he insisted, as the team has had to begin the 2015 car's life with a basic cooling layout.
"We were very conservative because we did not have much room to manoeuvre," said Green.
Also in the pipeline is a shorter nose for the VJM08.
"In the past we always made strong starts to the season and then eased back a little," said operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. "This time we need to do it in reverse."