Force India braced for slow start to the 2015 campaign

Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley says the squad is braced for a slow start to the 2015 campaign following the late introduction of its new car.

Force India began the 2014 season strongly, with Nico Hülkenberg claiming top five finishes and Sergio Pérez finishing on the podium in Bahrain, to sit third in the Constructors' Championship after the flyaway races, having accumulated over 50 points.

But Force India's VJM08 only hit the circuit for the first time last Friday and, while it ran reliably, the team is aware that it has to make up ground compared to its rivals.

"Unfortunately we will make a step back," Fernley told Sky Sports. "We will be behind at the start but hopefully we will reverse our recent trend and have a good second half of the season instead."

"We have had cash-flow issues, there is no question about that, our suppliers were very badly hit by the demise of Caterham and Manor – and are still suffering. We have a very high expenditure at a time of low incomes."

Force India voted against Manor's alleged proposal to use its 2014 car during the early stages of the season, amid suggestions that the Silverstone-based team would benefit financially.

Manor is still striving to make it to the Australian Grand Prix with a modified 2014 car – alongside continued work on a 2015 machine – and Fernley denies that Force India's vote was driven by money.

"Between 2014 and 2015, the changes are safety-based and if you want to compromise safety you need to have a good reason to do it," he said.

"Heaven forbid if the unthinkable happened, how would we cope if we ran an unsafe car? We are very supportive of Manor. Manor are now going down the proper route and we welcome them. The last thing we want is for teams to fall out of Formula 1."