BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen has claimed that the formation of the Formula One Teams' Association, and the unity it has shown, will only help to make the sport a stronger force once it emerges from the current economic downturn.

Admitting that drastic measures had to be taken to shore up the F1 ship as costs spiralled and sponsorship income became threatened by the credit crisis, Theissen believes that the enforced reduction in spending will achieve the long-term stability that could see new blood introduced to the sport once the worst of the financial storm has been weathered.

''There has never been such unity between the Formula One teams as we are seeing now,'' he insisted, ''At the first FOTA press conference in Geneva at the start of March, chairman Luca di Montezemolo spoke - with good reason - of an historic event.

''The teams have come together within FOTA to provide an equal partner for the FIA and FOM, and our common aim is to reduce costs without taking away the ingredients that make Formula One so captivating and so attractive. For example, we have cut the amount of testing allowed by half for 2009, and placed restrictions on the use of wind tunnels and supercomputers, and these steps will be followed by a much more extensive package of measures in 2010.

''The top category of motor racing remains a unique mixture of cutting edge technology, sport, business and glamour, but times have changed and Formula One has to adapt accordingly.

''I think our sport is heading in the right direction, but we have the opportunity - in the critical phase in which we now find ourselves - to exert a positive influence over the future of Formula One - and I am in no doubt that Formula One will emerge stronger from the current situation. Once the cost-cutting measures have taken full effect, I expect further independent teams to come into Formula One and be able to compete on a sound financial footing. Added to which, the technical regulations are now geared towards the F1 machines playing an important role in the development of series production cars. This allows Formula One to serve as a pioneer with regard to future technologies.''

With Honda gone, and the futures of Toyota and Renault constantly being queried as F1 becomes an unwanted expense for the manufacturers so keen to buy into the sport in 'boom time', the link between the technology being developed on track and everyday use in road cars is a vital one for BMW, and Theissen insists that he sees no reason for the German marque to pull the plug on a programme only now shifting into top gear.

''The investment in the Formula One project is most definitely justifiable for BMW in the current economic climate,'' he claimed, ''Alongside the savings I've already mentioned, which will be backed up by further economising in the future, we have started to enjoy success on the track, so it's not only our marketing experts who are saying that Formula One is a valuable tool for BMW.

''F1 remains the core of our motorsport programme - nowhere else will you find such charisma exuded on a global level on such a frequent basis. And nothing else offers a technical challenge so fruitful that it benefits the research activities of an entire company. From a cost-benefit point of view, Formula One is very positive for us.''

The team, he revealed, has been keeping an eye on its costs since joining the F1 grid as something more than an engine supplier, meaning that the sweeping cuts imposed just before Christmas have not had as drastic an effect as they might on some of its rivals.

''We have supported cost-saving measures for a number of years, and have always pursued a policy of moderation,'' he explained, ''From its formation, the BMW Sauber F1 Team has focused on efficiency and reduced its expenditure each year. Today, BMW is spending 40 per cent less on its involvement in Formula One than in 2005. Back then, we were an engine supplier, but now have our own team, of course.

''Significant savings have been achieved through increases in the mileage required of each engine. When BMW returned to Formula One in 2000, we were using one engine for free practice, replacing it for qualifying and then fitting another new one for the race. This outlay has since been gradually reined in and, today, each driver has to make do with eight engines for the full duration of the season.

''The heavily reduced testing schedule has brought further substantial budget savings. Testing on race circuits is banned outside of race weekends until 31 December 2009. The only exception will be tests for junior drivers with no GP experience after the season has finished. So we have put together a whole package of measures to reduce costs.''

Despite the cuts, however, Theissen remains confident that his team can continue its upward trend towards the ultimate goal.

''We are following a long-term timetable,'' he reiterated, ''In our first year, we set out to finish regularly in the points; in year two, we wanted to record podium finishes and, in our third year, we were aiming to notch up our first victory. We have achieved all of these ambitious aims.

''In 2009, we are looking to take the next, and most difficult, step yet - we want to be fighting for the world championship title. The F1.09 gives us a good platform to fulfil this aim, and now we have to see what happens in the season's 17 races. What we know for certain is that you can plan your level of performance, but not your results.''