Force India believes that McLaren could now play a decisive role in its battle with Williams for fourth place in the constructors' championship
The Silverstone-based team has closed to within 15 points of Williams in the battle behind Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari.
But with the fight between them finely poised, Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley thinks the two teams will now have to factor in potential disruption from the ever more competitive McLaren outfit.
“I think the thing that could be interesting for both of us is McLaren,” Fernley told Motorsport.com. “I think McLaren, as they did in Germany, could cause issues for our battle.
“If you get it slightly wrong, then there is going to be a McLaren to make sure you get it doubly wrong.”
Fernley believes his team has left its early season struggles well behind it, where a lack of points in the early races was put more down to bad luck than anything specifically wrong with its car.
“I think the races pre-Barcelona were quite tough,” he said. “If it could go wrong, it would go wrong.
"In two races we had DNFs, plus we had both cars taken out on the first lap. So we didn't achieve what we thought we could achieve up to Barcelona.
“Then of course the upgrade was planned anyway for Barcelona and we have been progressively building up for that since. We are at the end of that now and I think Williams are as well, so I think it is literally toe-to-toe.”
Although recent frustrations for Williams have allowed Force India to close down the gap, Fernley thinks that it would be wrong to believe that his Grove-based rivals are on the backfoot.
“We don't underestimate their abilities, and they are a good team,” he said. “I think it is just a case of going into the races and realizing that some are going to be beneficial to them and in those cases, either try to minimize it or take advantage of it. And where we feel we have the strength, then obviously we have to capitalize on it.
“You would expect under normal circumstances Williams to perhaps have the swing of us at Spa, maybe not so much at Monza.
“So that is one of our tracks that we have to look at minimizing. It will be swings and roundabouts through the year.”