by Russell Atkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

Nick Heidfeld enjoyed the best season of his eight-year Formula 1 career in 2007, notching up a brace of podiums and 61 points en route to fifth position in the drivers' standings for BMW.

Whilst the Munich and Hinwil-based squad's consistently strong form was one of the revelations of the campaign, though, neither Heidfeld nor team-mate Robert Kubica were ever able to really take the fight to the dominant McLaren and Ferrari drivers. That, the 30-year-old German told Crash.net Radio, is something he aims to change in 2008...

Q:
Nick, after what you've experienced of BMW's 2008 car so far, how excited are you about the season ahead?

Nick Heidfeld:
I'm very excited. I have a positive feeling, though unfortunately that doesn't mean a lot. From the data and information we have so far from the wind tunnel - which all is only in theory - we are happy and feel we have achieved the targets we set ourselves a couple of months ago.

Q:
How do you feel when you look back over the 2007 campaign? BMW had said the goal was to get podiums and you achieved that; was there ever a point where you thought you might actually be able to win a race, or were McLaren and Ferrari always too strong?

NH:
I didn't think we would win a race, but then we actually came quite close on at least one occasion, in Canada when I finished second. We achieved more than I expected last year, being the third-strongest team and finishing second in the constructors' championship.

Probably the two points that weren't perfect were the reliability, and the fact that I was quite disappointed at not getting better results out of the wet races. Usually I'm not too bad in the wet, and there were chances in all three races to score at least a podium, if not a lucky win. That was a bit disappointing.

Q:
You mentioned the reliability last year - that was mainly down to the gearbox in the early part of the season. Now obviously there's the standard ECU transmission - how will that change things for BMW in 2008 do you think?

NH:
It's difficult to predict, but I'm sure the team has learnt a lot. Winter testing so far has gone well, already with most of the parts concerning the new gearbox on-board, but we haven't done enough kilometres yet. The gearbox needs to last four races, so we need to do a lot of testing and driving to really know how reliable we are.

Q:
The other big change for this season is the absence of traction control now. Most drivers are in favour of that move; what's your view on it, and how will it affect the racing do you think?

NH:
I really enjoy it [driving without traction control]; obviously the first couple of tests we did were already without traction control, and it's more fun to steer the car without it. It will be very interesting if its starts to rain - we haven't had that in the last couple of tests - and I'm sure it will also be a bit more exciting for the spectators.

Q:
There are a couple of new grands prix this year too, on street circuits in Singapore and Valencia. The Singapore race will be at night - how are you looking forward to that one?

NH:
I like the idea; I just hope the lights will stay on all the time! On top of that, I hope these new street circuits will be safer than Monaco. I enjoy Monaco a lot - it's one of my favourite circuits - but when we get new circuits on-board they should be up to standard. I guess they are, otherwise they wouldn't be on the calendar. On paper it all looks good; now we just have to wait and see when we drive there.

Q:
BMW seemed to be in a bit of a 'no-man's-land' last year, in that McLaren and Ferrari were slightly ahead and Renault further behind. How do you think the battle will shake out between the four teams this year?

NH:
It's very difficult to judge. I expect Renault to make a jump forward, though obviously I hope they will not overtake us; I doubt they will. Then I guess McLaren and Ferrari again will be the strongest teams. It's early days, but from what you see and hear the new McLaren was quite good on the roll-out at Jerez and after just a couple of outings has already been setting some really impressive times, so I guess it will be McLaren and Ferrari again, and hopefully we can close the gap.

Q:
BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen has said the target for BMW this year is victory; is that your personal target too?

NH:
Well, I'm part of the team and I believe we can achieve it so yes it is, but on the other side, more importantly my target is to maximise the potential of the car in each and every race. Even if we don't have a car that can win the race, obviously I will not be happy, but it is very important for me to know for myself that I did everything that was possible.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE