Force India should be encouraged by its Chinese Grand Prix performance, despite failing to score a point at Shanghai, according to deputy team boss Robert Fernley.
Paul di Resta was among the massive pack of cars fighting for positions from the podium back to the midfield as the myriad tyre strategies unfolded in China, but ended up towards the back of the queue in 12th place.
But Fernley said that the lack of retirements and extremely close competition masked how strong Force India's pace had been relative to the top teams.
"We always felt that scoring points in today's race would need an element of luck or attrition, but as it was we saw almost 100 per cent reliability," said Fernley.
"Paul was in the mix for most of the race, fighting to get in the top 10 and ending up just under eight seconds from seventh place, and just 22 seconds off second place, which shows how competitive the field was today."
Fernley added: "We know that our race pace relative to our midfield rivals is not too far away and hopefully we can continue to close the performance gap quickly."
Di Resta agreed that Force India did not need to find a lot more pace to get itself firmly into the top 10 group.
"It was an extremely close race today and although we were able to keep ourselves in the hunt, we were just missing the pace to catch people and make up any more ground," said the Briton.
"So we go away from here knowing that we are not too far away from the other teams and determined to get the car dialled in nicely for Bahrain next week."
Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th in the second Force India after his car picked up nose damage on the first lap.