Nick Heidfeld has admitted that whilst he remains committed to BMW-Sauber, he is 'constantly in discussions and deliberations' and assessing his options in F1 for 2010 and beyond - as he evinces spending several more years yet at the highest level.

Though regarded in some quarters as one of the grid's veterans - having started 158 grands prix since making his bow in the top flight back in 2000 with Prost - Heidfeld is just 32, and is optimistic of being able to carry on perhaps until he is 40, pointing to drivers like Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill who only clinched the laurels towards the end of their fourth decade in life.

"My ultimate goal is to become world champion," the German underlined, speaking to Eurosport, "and if that happens at 40, it is okay. An indication, perhaps - if you look at the past few years - is that drivers who have retired have always been around 38 or 39-years-old. I am now 32, so I have a few more years ahead of me!"

Be that as it may, the man from M?nchengladbach remains in search of his maiden F1 victory in this his tenth campaign, and he admits that BMW's underperforming and disappointing F1.09 is unlikely to be the machine that helps him to achieve it - with the car falling a long way short of fulfilling the team's stated pre-season aim of challenging for title glory, having successfully accomplished each and every one of its previous objectives over the past three years.

Up until last month's Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul, Heidfeld was the only one of the Bavarian outfit's drivers to have notched up any points in 2009 at all - courtesy of seventh place in Barcelona and a somewhat fortuitous runner-up spot in the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix in Sakhir - but it is widely considered that if anyone is to face the boot at season's close, it will be him rather than team-mate Robert Kubica. Both drivers are out of contract at the end of the year, and the twelve-time podium finisher has confessed that he is not limiting his options merely to his present employer, for whom he has raced since BMW's official debut as a manufacturer in its own right back in 2006.

"It's a bit difficult to predict," replied the man dubbed 'Quick Nick', when asked if the Munich and Hinwil-based concern can regain competitiveness over the second half of this year, having thus far appeared to repeatedly take one step forward swiftly followed by two steps back. "The primary focus is on the current situation, together with the team, but in terms of the medium and long-term, you are constantly in discussions and deliberations.

"You have to look at several teams, not only BMW, but just because this year is not so good, I won't quickly leave here. Together, we have achieved a lot, and I am convinced that BMW is in Formula 1 in order to win."