Nico Hulkenberg has played down Force India's rapid first day practice pace for the Italian Grand Prix and expects his rivals to up their ante in qualifying and on race day.

Both Hulkenberg and team-mate Sergio Perez put in solid times for the Force India team in both FP1 and FP2, with both drivers splitting the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on each occasion.

Hulkenberg has finished outside the points in his last two outings in Hungary and Spa - in turn putting him behind Perez in the standings - and despite the strong start to the weekend, Hulkenberg expects their rivals to show their true pace in Saturday's qualifying.

"We need to give it our best efforts. We saw that in Spa, a little problem for me meant we were out of the top 10. When it comes there [qualifying], everybody obviously puts the best engine mode and low fuel and anything can happen but I think the car definitely has the potential and the capability of being in the top 10," Hulkenberg noted.

With Mercedes continuing their dominance at the front of the grid, the German was left to reflect upon where he thinks the VJM08 sits in the chasing pack.

"The car has improved again. It is feeling pretty good here today and I mean, you see it in the lap times, we were quite competitive today but it is only Friday," he sighed. "We've seen it a few times this year, on a 'greener' track, we are quite competitive and come Saturday; Williams find a bit more performance, some other teams as well.

"It's very close if you look around us, Williams, Lotus, Ferrari, we're all quite close together and the smallest mistake can make a big difference. It's only Friday, tomorrow and Sunday it counts and we have to put it all together."

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