Vijay Mallya admits Force India are starting the 2015 season on the back foot following their disrupted pre-season.
Various delays meant the team were only able to complete two and a half days of running with their 2015 car, the VJM08 - and while it proved reliable from the outset, team principal Mallya says there is no hiding the fact Force India are playing catch up with their rivals.
"It's no secret that we have faced some delays and challenges over the winter," Mallya admitted. "In terms of mileage we are clearly behind the other teams so there is some ground to make up. Equally, the performance work we could do in [the final pre-season test at] Barcelona was quite limited.
"As for our hopes in Melbourne, it's difficult to make a prediction - until we run in qualifying trim and race conditions it's hard to know where we are in terms of competitiveness. What I do know is that we will give it our best shot to come away with a result."
Mallya said that Force India had at least been cheered by the car's impressive early form, adding: "When the VJM08 appeared in Barcelona it ran reliably from the very first moment and didn't miss a beat during its 365 laps.
"To deliver such a solid performance out of the box was a fantastic achievement from everyone in the team and will stand us in good stead for the first race."
Nico Hulkenberg, who helped get Force India's 2014 campaign off to a strong start by finishing sixth in the Australian season-opener, said he is eager to find out how the VJM08 compares to its 2015 rivals.
"The first race of the season is always a special occasion: a race you really look forward to for a long time," he said. "As a driver, the first race is very interesting - you have a new car to push to the limit in race conditions for the first time, [and] we are as curious as anybody to see where everyone really is compared to the others."

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