A difficult Australian Grand Prix meant that Force India missed out on scoring constructors championship points for the first time since last year's race in Monaco.
Sergio Perez started from 12th place on the grid but was only able to advance a single place by the chequered flag. Esteban Ocon had only a slightly better time, improving from 14th to finish behind his team mate in 12th.
“It was quite an unlucky weekend for us," admitted Perez. "The Virtual Safety Car also didn’t help us at all, but that’s just how things go sometimes.
"We came close to bringing home a point although it was just out of reach," he said. "I was pushing throughout the whole race and especially chasing Sainz in the final laps. I got really close to him, but it wasn’t enough.
"Overtaking in Melbourne is very difficult," he pointed out. "You could see the same with [Valtteri] Bottas, who couldn’t pass me during the first stint.
"There are still positives to take from this race," he insisted. "We will need to move on and keep improving, but I believe we will soon be in a position to battle for points. Hopefully our improvements will come as early as Bahrain."
"Not an easy race today," Ocon added. "It was very difficult to overtake and even though I managed to jump ahead of Lance [Stroll] on the first lap, everybody quickly spread out until the safety car.
"We certainly had better race pace compared to our qualifying pace," he said. "But we are just missing some performance to be up there in the top ten at the moment.
"Things can turn around quickly in Formula 1," he noted. "We will keep pushing over the next two weeks to bring something extra to Bahrain."
Deputy team principal Bob Fernley admitted that the team needed to squeeze some more speed out of the VJM11.
“Ultimately we didn’t have the pace this weekend to fight in the top ten and so we’ve ended our day on the cusp of the points," he said.
"Both drivers drove well today, but the luck didn’t play into our hands with the timing of the safety car.
"It’s early days in the season," he continued. "With twenty races to go there will be plenty of opportunities to develop this car and show our strengths.
"We’re on a learning curve with the developments we introduced this weekend and there’s more in the pipeline for Bahrain."