Nico Hulkenberg says the target for Force India is to at least repeat its result from Australia at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Having originally finished the race in seventh place, Hulkenberg was promoted to sixth when Daniel Ricciardo was excluded in Melbourne. Hulkenberg had run competitively during the race, holding off Fernando Alonso's Ferrari for a number of laps, and when asked by Crash.net if the aim was to build on the strong start, he replied: "Exactly, I think we want to build on that, try to repeat it, try to improve a little bit...

"These are very different track characteristics, very different temperatures of course so we have to see how it behaves. We have the harder compound tyre here so we need to see how we get on with them but otherwise the approach is pretty much the same as two weeks ago.

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"I think there were areas where we could improve but I think the bottom line was we pretty much got out what we could. It was a very promising weekend and I think we were happy with it."

With McLaren finishing second and third in Melbourne but Force India having appeared quicker throughout testing, Hulkenberg said it wasn't a surprise to him to see the gain in performance.

"I personally expected them to be good in Melbourne because it's a high-downforce track and there aren't so many straights. I think we've got a little bit of an idea now where we stand and where others are and I think we just need to keep on working hard and keep developing. We're in a good position with room for development with the car; we've got a good starting point and we just need to build on that now."

Asked if he expected to be closer to McLaren in Malaysia, Hulkenberg replied: "Maybe... but it's too hard to tell."

With Mercedes engines enjoying a power advantage at this early stage, Hulkenberg said he doesn't expect it to last all year.

"At this point yes, but it's a development race and that might change. I think all of the manufacturers and teams are pushing hard like always. We never stand still in Formula One, things change."

However, with long straights in Malaysia, Bahrain and China, Hulkenberg admits the advantage is important at this stage of the season, adding: "It's definitely not a penalty!"