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Heidfeld targeting title, not just a maiden win 04 Feb 2009

Nick Heidfeld (GER) in the BMW Sauber F1.09, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, 23 January 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) in the BMW Sauber F1.09, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, 23 January 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) in the BMW Sauber F1.09, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, 23 January 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) and the new BMW Sauber F1.09. BMW Sauber F1.09 Roll-Out, Valencia, Spain, 20 January 2009. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 during the driver press conference. BMW Sauber F1.09 Roll-Out, Valencia, Spain, 20 January 2009.

After watching his BMW Sauber team mate, Robert Kubica, score a first win at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, you would be forgiven for thinking Nick Heidfeld’s goal for 2009 would be to match his Polish counterpart. But Heidfeld has a far more ambitious target and is hoping to challenge for the title, if the F1.09 proves to be a worthy enough charge.

“I don’t constantly think about clinching my maiden Grand Prix win,” the German told BMW Sauber’s official site. “After all it’s my goal to win the title and not just a race. Should the car have what it takes to win the title, I can make it.”

Heidfeld made his Formula One debut in 2000 with the Prost team and has since driven for Sauber, Williams and Jordan, enjoying 11 podium finishes. But a win has proved elusive, with his closest opportunity to date coming at the 2008 Montreal race, when team mate Kubica triumphed and Heidfeld finished second.

“So far I have contested just one race where my car and the circumstances would have offered me the chance of crossing the finish line as winner: last year in Montreal,” he added. “But my team mate secured the win and we celebrated a one-two. Thanks to the major improvements we realised last year, we won’t have to make such a big step forward in 2009.”

And after sampling BMW Sauber's new car for the first time at the team's private test at the Spanish circuit of Valencia a fortnight ago, Heidfeld seems confident that the F1.09 will not disappoint and will be more than capable of matching its predecessor’s pace.

Despite the car’s promise, however, there is one area Heidfeld will have to look into ahead of the 2009 season - his qualifying performances, which regularly let him down last season. Although as quick and consistent as ever in races, the German struggled with patchy form on Saturdays, which often relegated him down the grid.

Indeed, whilst Kubica regularly made it into the top six, and took a maiden pole, Heidfeld was unable to get the best out of his car over a single lap and never qualified higher than fifth. But with the root of the issue caused by his inability to get heat into the tyres quickly enough, he could well benefit from 2009’s switch to slicks.

The test sessions ahead of the season will certainly play a very important role, as the drivers adjust to the new regulations changes and their new cars. Heidfeld is expected back in the F1.09’s cockpit next week, as BMW Sauber test alongside Ferrari and Toyota in Bahrain.