Force India Deputy Principal Bob Fernley believes Mercedes and Williams are the teams to beat in the season's first race in Australia in little more than a fortnight's time.
Williams driver Felipe Massa topped the time sheets on the penultimate day of testing in Bahrain last week, before Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes was fastest on the final day, a mere two hundreds of a second slower than the Brazilian.
"It would be very nice, but I think the important thing is that if we can be competing strongly with Williams and Mercedes. There's no reason why we shouldn't do," Fernley told crash.net when asked during an exclusive interview of he believes Force India could be the leading non-works Mercedes outfit.
"I think Williams might have something to say about that!
"Mercedes are looking exceptionally strong and so are Williams at the moment; I don't think we have probably got quite their outright pace but I think the race will be a different issue.
Fernley added that the Silverstone outfit's confidence heading into the season is based on their impressive performances during pre-season.
"I think it's been a very productive three tests overall. We have done all of the things that we set out to do. Test one was basically getting software systems aligned and just ironing out any installation errors, which we did and got a decent run on the last day of that which ticked the box there," Fernley added in his interview with crash.net.
"Test one in Bahrain was about getting some set-up work done and getting some basic distance runs in and [the last test] has been about some performance runs and race sims.
"I think we've ticked all the boxes. 100 laps per day for [the third test] has been quite an impressive process and credit to the team because that's not an easy thing to do."
Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.