BMW Sauber F1 team boss Mario Theissen has conceded that he will have 'mixed feelings' when they arrive in Abu Dhabi this week, for the inaugural grand prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Indeed while there is a sense of excitement as F1 heads to the 5.554 kilometre-track for the very first time, it will also be a sad occasion for Theissen as it will bring the curtain down on BMW's involvement in F1 - although the Swiss arm of the team under Peter Sauber is still hoping to line up on the grid in 2010.
While the event marks the end of an era though, Theissen is determined to see 'his' team go out on a high and ideally snatch sixth place from Williams
in the Constructors' Championship.
"We will travel to Abu Dhabi with mixed feelings. The eight points we collected in Brazil have allowed us to move up a place in the Constructors' Championship, and we will be highly motivated once again at the final race of the season," Theissen vowed.
"We are looking forward to racing at the new F1 venue and can't wait to experience the atmosphere at the marina circuit. However, there will of course also be a fair amount of sadness within the team as we set off for Abu Dhabi. After all, this will be our 70th and final race with the BMW
Sauber F1 Team."
Asked about BMW's recent foray in F1, Theissen added that on the whole he has been more than pleased with the squad's list of accomplishments.
"With the exception of our fourth and unfortunately final season, I'm more than satisfied with what we have achieved since 2006," he continued. "In the first three years after the team was founded, we met – and even exceeded – all the aims we set ourselves.
"We recorded two podium finishes in our first season on the grid, and in our second season we established ourselves as the third-strongest team in the championship. This was the year in which Robert suffered his horrific crash in Montreal. It felt like an eternity until we finally heard the good news that he was okay. The relief meant we were able to celebrate Nick's second place in suitable style.
"It was in Montreal a year later that we enjoyed our greatest success. From the moment that Robert and Nick crossed the finish line in quick succession to record a 1-2 result, there was no stopping us. We remained part of a three-way battle for the title almost until the end of the season. We notched up 11 podium finishes in total in 2008 and our reliability was excellent.