Force India expects to be fighting for podiums at the start of the season, according to deputy team principal Bob Fernley.

Sergio Perez was quickest on each of the opening two days of the final test in Bahrain as Force India showed some strong pace. Speaking exclusively to Crash.net in the Bahrain paddock after the end of the test, Fernley said the team's ambitions had been further cemented by how its pre-season has gone.

"Our aspirations this year has always been about the podium," Fernley said. "It's no secret that obviously that's our goal because it's the next step of our evolution of a team. So we've got to move in to that top five group - number one - and number two when you're in that top five group you've got to be looking for podiums."

Asked if he felt Force India was on target for podiums, Fernley replied: "Yes I think so. Looking at it now I'd be optimistic, but there's still got to be some very good teams that have got to come through yet, Red Bull being one of them..."

And Fernley admitted that he expects the grid in Melbourne will likely be dominated by Mercedes-powered cars.

"I have to say I didn't think that at the start of testing but it's become reasonably evident as the testing has gone on. But Ferrari are in there quite strongly as well. At the moment I think it will be five teams - if everything goes to plan - fighting for the Q3 programme in Melbourne, and then depending on what happens with Red Bull and Lotus."