After having garnered just a point from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix [ Images ], Sahara Force India [ Images ] team is eyeing a better performance in the second race of the 2012 Formula One season in Sepang on Sunday.
Paul Di Resta, who managed to pick up a point for Force India by finishing in the 10th spot in Melbourne [ Images ], said the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix would be an interesting one as it is considered as one of the toughest races of the year.
"Sepang will be a tough fitness test and I'll see how well the work over the winter has prepared me," he said.
"It's up there alongside Singapore as one of the toughest races of the year, simply because of the heat and humidity.
"While you are driving it's not too bad because you get some air flow through the car, but you really feel the heat when you're sitting in the car in the garage with the heat soak from the engine and the tyres. That's when you're most uncomfortable in the cockpit," Di Resta added.
Team principal Vijay Mallya [ Images ] also admitted that tough task awaits the team this weekend in Sepang but said the race would give Force India a chance to judge where it stands.
"What is clear is that all the teams around us are very closely matched in terms of absolute pace and even the smallest mistake in qualifying or the race can cost you several positions. It will be very competitive in the midfield, just as we predicted during the pre-season," Mallya said.
"Sepang this weekend should be another good indicator of where we stand in the pecking order. I'm optimistic that it will suit the characteristics of the VJM05 more than Melbourne and that we can remain in the hunt for points," the liquor baron added.
Di Resta's co-driver, Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, is looking to put the disappointment of Melbourne behind him and bounce back in Sepang.
"I'm glad that we have back-to-back races because I just want to get back in the car. Seeing how the race developed it was frustrating not to be out there fighting for points, but it wasn't meant to be. I'm now fully focussed on Malaysia because there's no point thinking about what might have been," he said.
Hulkenberg was hit from the back in the opening lap, which damaged his suspension and led to his early retirement in Melbourne last week.
Stating that the Sepang circuit has a nice variation of high and low speed corners, Hulkenberg said, "There are two long straights. So you have to find the right balance between top speed and having enough downforce for the corners.
"The high temperatures and the track surface also result in quite high tyre degradation so it's important to find a race set-up that is quite easy on the tyres."
Photograph: Sahara Force India