The BMW Sauber F1 team would definitely have been in with a fighting chance of winning the title this year had the rules not be so radically revised, that's the view of Nick Heidfeld.
Heidfeld, who finished sixth in the drivers' championship last season and notched up 60 points, is already looking forward to the season opening Australian Grand Prix. However he reckons that with so much change it is very difficult to predict just who will be quick - and who won't.
Speaking following the launch of BMW Sauber's all-new F1.09 in Valencia today, Nick added though that he is still hopeful they will be strong – and he will be keen to build on the four second places he collected in 2008.
"The team started work early on the wide range of changes. I'm confident that we're in good shape and am looking forward to the first race, when we'll see whether the balance of power has shifted at all," he said.
"It's been impressive the way we achieved our goals in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
"Normally I would say we would be sure to do it again in 2009, and be in with a fighting chance of winning the title. But all the new rules for next season could potentially create a whole new ballgame.
"I very much hope, though, that we'll put in a strong performance."
Asked about the new regulations, Heidfeld stated that the re-introduction of slick tyres is the thing that excites him most – and he believes it will be especially beneficial for him: "In previous years I've always said that slicks were the first change I would like to see. So I'm happy to see them come back," he explained.
"F1 cars belong on slicks. They look better too. I never liked the idea of making compromises at the one and only interface between the power and capabilities of a Formula One car and the track surface. I think slicks will help my driving style as well."