Sergio Perez believes Force India needs a "good step" for the Formula 1 season opener, as the Mexican reckons the Silverstone team is not currently leading the midfield pack.
Force India has elected to test with a simpler version of its 2018 car and is set to introduce a big update package in the first race of the year in Australia.
The decision appears to have left the team - which finished fourth in last year's championship - behind some of its main rivals in pre-season testing.
While Perez acknowledges that Force India is not at the head of the midfield pack, he remains hopeful that the Melbourne upgrade and in-season development will put the team back where it was last season.
"I think we definitely need a good step for the first race and hopefully that will come and we can be competitive from then onwards," said Perez at the end of the first day of the second test in Barcelona.
"I think what we are experiencing these days is probably irrelevant because once we go to race weekends track temperatures are going to be quite different to what we've had so far.
"Right now it's hard to judge where we are, but certainly I don't think we are leading the mid-pack at the moment, but I certainly always say it doesn't matter where we start, it's where you are in Abu Dhabi.
"We will see in Melbourne where we are, once we bring our package, but I'm very hopeful of what we are going to have for Melbourne. It's too early to be disappointed or happy. We have to keep our heads down and work."
Perez's first day of running this week was compromised by an incident in the morning, which left the team having to take the floor off the VJM11.
Despite admitting he completed just part of his programme, the Mexican was positive about the progress made.
"We managed to complete part of the programme and I think it's been a very positive day in terms of what we've done, what we've learned and just gathering data I think it's been positive today," he said.
"It's been a good day, I think we've done good running. A lot of understanding. We tried two different compounds, we completed a good programme. I can be pleased with my day. Certainly it's one more day to go for me before Melbourne.
"I'm a lot more confident with where we are now with the set-up of the car and everything else."
Additional reporting by Scott Mitchell