Force India will not be satisfied if it starts the season with anything less than the fifth quickest car in the field in 2013.
The Silverstone-based squad endured a slow start to this year but became one of the strongest outfits towards the end, with Nico Hulkenberg fighting for victory in the last race in Brazil.
Deputy team principal Bob Fernley reckons his squad's momentum can be kept going into 2013, when he is optimistic Force India can hit the ground running.
"We have to be very encouraged by the second half of the season," Fernley told AUTOSPORT. "The regulations are stable going into 2013.
"So apart from the development work you're going to do over the winter, fundamentally where you've finished now is where you start in March.
"So we have to be to be encouraged, it's a strong package.
"Can we learn something? We've had two seasons where we've been slow out of the box.
"It's caught us out. Hopefully in 2013 that won't be the case."
Although Force India finished seventh in the constructors' championship behind Mercedes and Sauber, Fernley said the team should not be aiming for any lower than fifth in 2013.
"If you look at the stats, since the summer break, Force India's the fifth best performing team and Vijay [Mallya] will expect us to start there, it's as simple as that," he added.
"Mercedes obviously have a lot of work to do. They have Lewis [Hamilton] going there, so that's going to be a renewed enthusiasm for what they're doing.
"They're a force to be reckoned with, but they've got to overcome the back of this season.
"From our point of view we've been strong at the end of this season and we want to carry that through to next year."
Force India announced it will unveil its 2013 car on 1 February.