Paul di Resta thinks Force India can target fifth in the standings
|By Edd Straw||Thursday, March 21st 2013, 09:55 GMT|
Paul di Resta is confident that Force India can challenge for fifth in the constructors' championship after a strong start to the season.
Adrian Sutil and di Resta finished seventh and eight respectively in Melbourne and the Scot suspects that the pattern will be the same at Sepang.
That points haul means that the Silverstone-based team, which finished seventh in the standings last year, holds fifth in the current table.
Di Resta stressed the need to capitalise on the strong position at the start of the season and is optimistic of doing so in the early-season flyaways.
"I would certainly like to hope it is," said di Resta when asked if fifth place is a realistic objective.
"We have come out [of the first race] much stronger than in recent years and here and Bahrain were very good for us last year.
"Having achieved what we did in Melbourne, we are on the right path to continue that and try and push ourselves into the mix for sixth, seventh and eight [in the races] where we were in Melbourne."
But di Resta warns that Sauber and particularly McLaren will be strong threats.
He accepts that McLaren is likely to come on more strongly as the season goes on, underlining Force India's need to press home its early advantage.
"I wouldn't say we were surprised we were the fifth team but given where McLaren are, obviously the sooner the races come up is an advantage to us.
"You have to respect that they are going to be fast again and they are going to be the ones that push us out.
"The unknown for us is Sauber because we never say what their race performance [with Nico Hulkenberg] was like.
"From the sessions beforehand, we seemed to have a bit of an edge on them but that's not to say that in the race they wouldn't have given us a harder time."