Formula 1 - Force India: Pace behind expectations

Force India believes it has work to do to catch its rival Mercedes-powered Formula 1 teams after it struggled more than expected in the Australian Grand Prix.

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Bob Fernley (Imago)

Nico Hulkenberg ran fourth in the early stages of the race in Melbourne, but he finished seventh on the road and was promoted to sixth after Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull was disqualified.

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley described the performance as "acceptable but not exceptional" and has charged the team with closing the gap to its rivals.

"It was good, but probably not quite as good as we would like it to be," he told AUTOSPORT.

"We didn't quite have the race pace as we would have liked, so we have got a bit of work to do.

"We have just got to focus now on making sure we do a little bit of work on the performance side.

"We have got reliability, which is good, and which is across the board with the Mercedes-powered cars, so we've got to inch ourselves up and make sure we are fighting with McLaren and Williams."

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Fernley believes that given the amount of running Force India had during pre-season testing, there are only small gains to be made in terms of the way it is using the engine as the race did not throw up any surprises.

He confirmed that the team will bring some upgrades to the Malaysian Grand Prix and that the team is pushing ahead with its development plan.

"It's marginal now," he said when asked what gains could be made with the operation of the engine.

"With the mileage that we did in pre-season, what happened in the race didn't deviate from what we thought we would do.

"We have a little bit coming [for Malaysia] but we will just go full speed with developments.

"Truth be told, we were expecting the aero war to start in Europe, but now I think it's going to come forward."

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