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Theissen: we will challenge for wins 30 Jan 2008

Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal BMW Sauber F1.08 First test, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, 16 January 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Valencia, Spain, Wednesday 23 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Nick Heidfeld (GER) prepares for the first run in the BMW Sauber F1.08 watched by Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal. BMW Sauber F1.08 Launch, BMW Welt, Munich, Germany, Monday 14 January 2008. World © Sutton

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is certain that the BMW Sauber F1.08 will challenge expected frontrunners Ferrari and McLaren during the 2008 season, even though the new car has so far struggled to make much of an impression in testing.

“We are convinced that the BMW Sauber F1.08 represents another significant step forward,” Theissen told the team's official website. “We are very confident that we have got what it takes to turn the duel involving the two teams ahead of us into a three-way battle.”

Since its launch in Germany earlier this month, the squad’s 2008 challenger has covered over 2000 kilometres during two three-day tests at the Spanish circuit of Valencia. Both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld have carried out set-up work as they look to improve the car that Theissen hopes will score the German-Swiss team a maiden victory.

“We are aware that realising this goal will be anything but easy,” he admitted. “After all, the two teams ahead of us are not only the most competitive on the grid but also more experienced than anybody else. Consequently, we have to expect that they also have made progress with their new cars.”

Last week Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber's technical director, reassured fans that the car would be up to scratch come the start of the season in Australia in March, highlighting the F1.08’s first-rate reliability.

“We have covered numerous laps without any noteworthy problems to date,” he said. “As far as performance is concerned, we are at the start of a comprehensive development phase. We have set ourselves an internal target which we aim to meet by Melbourne, and I am confident we will achieve that.”

BMW Sauber will test again in Spain later this week at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya from February 1-3.