Force India believes its promising form in Friday practice at Melbourne proves how much progress it has made over the winter.
The revitalised team set some eye-catching times during pre-season testing, but remained cautious about its 2008 form.
However new signing Giancarlo Fisichella ended today's second session in a strong ninth place, having earlier been as high as sixth.
"It was a good challenge today and it looks quite promising," he said.
"We made a big step forward over the winter and, with the new development parts we have here, we are not looking too bad.
"I am happy with the job we are doing so far, both the team and myself are working well together, and although we know we still have a lot of work to do and it is going to be tough, it's a good start."
Force India's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne is keen to maintain that form throughout the rest of the weekend.
"On the whole a very good day for the team that confirms the step forward we have made relative to the competition over the winter," he said.
"We now have to carry that forward through qualifying and into the race."
Fisichella's team-mate Adrian Sutil was only 17th in both sessions, but reckoned he could have been faster had he not hit traffic.
"I think today went quite well," he said.
"The track was slippery at the beginning, so it was difficult to find a good balance to start with, but after the first run I was happy and then we didn't change so much over the sessions - really just fine-tuned everything.
"We had a small hydraulic problem before lunch but it was soon solved and we could do several longer runs in the second free practice with some quite good lap times.
"At the end it was a little bit unlucky I had some traffic on my fastest lap so I couldn't do a good time with the new tyres, but tomorrow is another day and I think we should be much better than last year."