Despite speculation to the contrary, BMW Sauber has revealed that it will field an unchanged line-up in next year's Formula One world championship, with Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica remaining in tandem for a third season.
Claiming to have 'opted for continuity', the Munich/Hinwil-based team will continue to build its assault on the top of both world championships with the race-winning Kubica remaining on board despite suggestions that he was growing increasingly unhappy with the team, and Heidfeld appearing to have received a reprieve after a mixed season where podium finishes have been interspersed with poor qualifying - and consequent race - results. Christian Klien will remain as the team's official test and reserve driver, having joined from Honda at the start of the season.
“We see Nick and Robert as a strong driver pairing and Christian as an experienced test driver," BMW's motorsport director Mario Theissen noted, "We are in no doubt that we will again achieve our ambitious aims with them in the team's fourth year.”
Many people's tip as a future world champion, Kubica opened his victory account at this year's Canadian Grand Prix - one year on from his potentially fatal crash at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - and remains in the hunt, albeit as an outsider, for this year's title. In recent weeks, however, he has accused the team of taking its eye off the ball, preferring instead to focus on the design and development of next year's car, as well as repeated efforts to bring back Heidfeld's performance in qualifying.
Even as late as the Singapore Grand Prix, the 23-year old Pole insisted that he was still in talks about his BMW Sauber future, with a possible swap deal with Fernando Alonso topping the list of rumours once any potential escape to Ferrari was ruled out for both men.
F1 veteran Heidfeld, meanwhile, continues to chase his first win in the top flight, but has moved up into fifth place in this year's title race on the back of ten scoring finishes, including four second places. In spite of his strong run of results, however, the 31-year old German has been the subject of various rumours suggesting that his time at Hinwil may be limited, with Alonso and GP2 runner-up Bruno Senna both having been linked to the seat alongside Kubica in recent weeks.
An unchanged line-up will maintain the continuity BMW Sauber has managed since Kubica replaced Jacques Villeneuve in 2006, and provides a stable platform for what is expected to be the year in which the team challenges legitimately for the world title.