Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer believes Formula 1 can look forward to a four-team battle to finish 'best of the rest' in fourth in the constructors' championship in 2018.
Last year, the Silverstone based outfit pushed on from their best ever result in 2016 and repeated it in more dominant fashion, finishing over 100 points clear of Williams with 16 double points results in 20 races.
However, with key personnel now at Grove and two multi-championship winning teams looking to return to the top, Szafnauer admits a third straight year atop the midfield is going to be very difficult.
“With McLaren and their new engine partner in Renault making strides and Renault themselves pouring even more resources in and working hard to catch up, as well as Williams with Paddy Lowe and their new head of aero [Dirk de Beer], it will be difficult for us to beat all three of those teams," he told Racer.
Rather than thinking defensively, however, the American believes Force India's best hope is to aim even higher and look to do what they didn't manage in 2017.
“For us, it would be great if we could develop the car to such a point where we’ve got good potential for a few podiums,” Szafnauer claimed.
"If we achieve that and come closer to third but maintain fourth, I think that would be an objective that would be a big success for Force India."
McLaren is considered the favourite by many to potentially make the big three into a top four thanks to Renault power and a chassis which they believe is a match for Red Bull.
Talking to Autosport about how they can achieve the latter, technical director Tim Goss, explained: “So much of producing a great F1 car these days is giving the driver a car that they can exploit, there is no point in giving them a car with very peaky performance.
“What we are trying to do is give the driver something that operates very well over a broad operating envelope.”
Hulkenberg targets fight with McLaren in
Grosjean to get a "pretty good idea" of
"Optimistic" Alonso targets F1 title aft
FIA target engine modes in effort to ens
Rowland joins Williams as young test dri
Vettel not "worried" but biding time bef
Return to papaya McLaren shows "deeper e
"Apprehensive" Alonso hopeful McLaren wi
McLaren unveils striking MCL33
Hamilton hopeful new Mercedes "irons out
Ferrari reveal the SF71H at Maranello
2018 McLaren colour confirmed in leaked
Toro Rosso hail "perfect" Misano shakedo
New Mercedes W09 breaks cover at Silvers
Toro Rosso STR13 revealed at Misano test
Force India in talks over potential take
Sochi promoters considering track tweaks
Petrobras to return to F1 with McLaren i
Hulkenberg sure of "exciting times ahead
Renault launches the R.S.18
Minor crash hampers Red Bull shakedown,
Sauber unveil the first car of new Alfa
Bottas reveals trouble-free race simulat
Marko worried Renault will hold Red Bull
Red Bull reveals new RB14 with special c
Kubica satisfied with progress despite m
Bottas will do "anything" to beat Hamilt
Red Bull & McLaren pressuring Liberty to
Latifi given Canada practice outing as p
Mercedes include McLaren and Renault as
Miami emerging as likely destination for
Kubica: Watching races will be "quite di
Verstappen "not looking forward" to raci
Brawn: DRS still a "necessary band-aid"
Williams hoping "significantly different
Williams reveal images of new FW41 in Lo
Sauber: Force India similarities offer l
Haas reveals first photos of new VF-18
Toro Rosso hoping to "spring some surpri
Alonso maintains earlier prediction of r
Haas sets ambitious 2018 performance tar
Ricciardo confident of greater Red Bull
Red Bull announce launch date for the RB
Baku race promoter wants to improve "una
McLaren expecting some aerodynamic oppor
F1 CEO Carey: Ferrari "unique" but can't
Mallya "proud" of Force India but sugges
Stroll using Hamilton as inspiration aga
FIA confirm ongoing work with IndyCar af
Button critical of WEC decision to chang
Verstappen sure rivals "would never see"
McLaren upbeat as Renault confident of e
Track limits a main topic as FIA officia
WEC confirms Fuji date change to accommo
Ricciardo wants "fast" teammate, particu
F1 CEO Carey considers Formula E a "stre
Grosjean identifies development as area
Hulkenberg "convinced" he was pushing 10
New Volkswagen motorsport boss coy on Po
McLaren would be interested in re-signin
Kyalami would only consider F1 if Libert
Alonso: Honda troubles led to a "united"
Pirelli targeting balance between better
Wehrlein confirms DTM return for 2018 af
Ricciardo needs to beat Verstappen to bo
Renault claims prospect of an engine ove
Sirotkin strongly rejects "pay driver" l
McLaren unconcerned by hectic Alonso sch
F1 announces new 'Grid Kids' initiative
Mercedes keen to establish if 'diva' cha
Liberty/ Ferrari confrontation "inevitab
Massa hoping for changes to address lack
Wolff: Ocon must beat Perez in 2018 to s
Alonso WEC program about proving he is "
Verstappen "challenge" makes him Ricciar
Stroll rejects notion of Massa as a ment
Boullier feared potential Alonso exit wo
Wolff sure new Hamilton/ Mercedes deal "
F1 decision to stop use of grid girls dr
Barrichello "feeling great" after reveal
F1 confirms change in start times for al
Fuji considering WEC date change to acco
8 F1 2018 predictions: Haas bottom of co
Marko suggests Alonso "did everything he
Williams insist 2018 driver line-up a lo
F1 ends use of grid girls from 2018
Bottas admits doubts led him to "overthi
Agag: Formula E will be the "main motors
Alonso hails Daytona performance of McLa
Toro Rosso targeting fourth, announce Ba
Alonso to combine F1 and WEC in 2018 aft
Renault confirms launch date for new R.S
Resurfaced Barcelona track causing Pirel
Sainz enjoys "very special" experience a
Date set for 2018 Alfa Romeo Sauber laun
Alonso feeling positive despite troubled
Hamilton pinpoints his main 2018 F1 titl
Liberty considering start time change fo
Mercedes: Fewer engines won't stop perfo
Williams reveal earliest 2018 launch dat