Despite having known each other for a long time, and both living in Switzerland, it has taken BMW's purchase of Sauber to bring Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve - both Sauber pilots in previous seasons - together in the team at the same time.

Despite bringing a combined experience of 250 grands prix to the team, and having the might of BMW behind them, both Heidfeld and Villeneuve are well aware that 2006 will not be an easy season, with the Canadian comparing the task ahead to his move to the new BAR team in 1999.

"Setting up a new team is a very complex task," he admitted, "I've been through it before, but I believe that the prerequisites that have come together here are good. I want to help the BMW Sauber F1 Team achieve success."

The 1997 world champion had to wait an interminable period before being confirmed as Heidfeld's team-mate, while the German signed his deal before even ending his stint with the Williams team which appeared to have rescued his career after a tough spell at Jordan in 2004. Having seen Formula One from both ends of the spectrum, the German, valued by BMW for his feedback as much as his pace, is looking forward to 'returning' to two teams he has raced for before.

"I know most of the members from past years, of course, and I can get to Hinwil by car in quarter of an hour - which is also an advantage," he smiled, before turning his attention to the year ahead, "As a racing driver, one is naturally impatient when it comes to seeing success, but we have to stay realistic. For me, the most important thing is to work hard and make steady progress."

Villeneuve and Heidfeld will be joined in the three-man squad by Polish youngster Robert Kubica, the reigning World Series by Renault champion taking on third driver duties at the new team.

"Robert has worked hard to achieve his successes without major backing, and that is worthy of respect," BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen said of his new charge.



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