BMW Sauber ready to challenge Ferrari, McLaren

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 14, 2008 17:38 hrs

Germany: BMW Sauber are determined to break Ferrari and McLaren's stranglehold on Formula One with a first grand prix victory this season.

Team boss Mario Theissen said at the launch of their new F1.08 car on Monday that BMW were confident they could take another big step forward after ending 2007 as the sport's third force.

"Certainly we are very confident to turn the battle between the cars in front of us into a battle of more than two teams this year," said Theissen.

"It will certainly be difficult (to win) because the two teams in front of us are the strongest and most experienced and will certainly do a big leap over the winter as well," added Theissen.

Show courage: Kirsten tells Indians

"Since we made big progress in the first two years, I am really confident we can do it again and close the gap."

BMW Sauber ended 2007 as runners-up, with 101 points to Ferrari's 204, but only because McLaren were stripped of all their constructors' points for a spying controversy. Former champions Renault were third with 51 points.

Between them, Ferrari and McLaren won every race and filled all but five of the podium places available. BMW Sauber's German driver Nick Heidfeld took one second place, the team's highest placing so far, in Canada and a third in Hungary.

Heidfeld and Poland's Robert Kubica have been confirmed for 2008, with BMW yet to name a test and reserve driver.

Theissen said Estonian Marko Asmer would test with the team again but no final decision was likely before the end of the month.

Heidfeld said the new car, with a far bigger front wing, was the most beautiful he had ever seen. "I'm sure that I can win races but it all depends obviously on this car here," said the 30-year-old German.

"In theory we should be able to close the gap further to the cars ahead of us and our clear goal for this season is to win a race."

Full coverage: India in Australia | Australian Open 2008

Kubica, who had a huge crash in Canada last year, said he was looking to improve his consistency in his second full season.

The season starts in Australia on March 16.

More from Sify: