The BMW Sauber team heads to Nurburgring in two weekends' time confident in the knowledge that it is still Formula One's third best team, having claimed fourth and sixth places at Silverstone.

Having been aware of a resurgent Renault in recent rounds, Mario Theissen's team was pleased to claim 'best of the rest' honours at the British Grand Prix, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld even sandwiching Ferrari's Felipe Massa after the Brazilian's fightback from a startline stall got him no higher than fifth. With the Nurburgring-based European Grand Prix next on the agenda, all at Munich and Hinwil are optimistic that the status quo can be maintained.

"We experienced a tough battle for our 'reserved' fourth place at Silverstone, as Robert felt the breath of Felipe Massa during the last 13 laps," Theissen admitted to the team's official website, "But he managed to defend his position and, after starting the race from ninth, Nick's sixth place finish is also an ideal result. After the nine points at Magny-Cours, we have now managed to collect a further eight and thereby strengthen our third place in the manufacturers' championship. The right race strategy and perfect pit-stops provided a major contribution to the success and, in this current form, we are well prepared for our 'home match' at the N?rburgring in two weeks."

Two races after returning from his accident in Montreal, Kubica has now racked up a brace of fourth places - his best results of the season - adding ten points to his tally. The Pole struggled in the first races of 2007, but admits that he is happier with his car now.

"It is true that I qualified fourth and fifth for the last two grands prix, but that is mainly due to the fact that we have managed to develop a better car balance," he confirmed, "I had a few problems at the start of the season but, now, we're returning to normality and I'm happy about that. It's important to continue to work in this direction. I really don't care if I'm ahead of my team-mate or not, but I have to be ahead of all the other drivers. Obviously, if I can achieve that, I'm automatically ahead of my team mate."

Heidfeld, meanwhile, appeared a little more subdued at Silverstone than he has in other races this year, but still managed to make up three places on his grid slot and remains satisfied with the progress that BMW Sauber is making.

"The gap to the top teams is not greater than it was at the beginning of the season," he points out, "The gap was as big in the first race of the season as it was now in Silverstone. We only managed to close the gap later on in the year. Of course, it would be great to battle for the top positions but, currently, all we are hoping for is to strengthen third. There are still a few tracks lined up that should be good for us.

"We have two weeks before the next race, so we will see some changes in the cars - hopefully in ours too. There won't be any major changes, but we will be in the wind tunnel 24 hours a day. If we find something to improve [the car], we will incorporate that."

The ongoing performance is also a source of satisfaction to Theissen, who is quick to point out that there is more to come from the team.

"We haven't even concluded our two-year development phase yet," he smiles, "The extension of our facility in Hinwil will not be finished until the end of the year. Then, the last free positions will be taken and we will be able to utilise our full potential.

"First of all, however, we are looking forward to the second half of the season. The employees at the track, as well as at Munich and Hinwil, are highly motivated. They can feel that we are moving forward and they are right. I am convinced that we are heading in the right direction.

"Our goal was to finish on the podium of our own accord in 2007, and Nick has already managed to do that in Montreal. However, I am confident that this will not remain the only podium finish of the year. We have been able to establish ourselves as the third strongest team after McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari, an improvement of two positions [on 2006] - a development which would have been difficult to predict.

"We have recorded points in every single race of the year, our drivers have reached top ten positions in qualifying for every race so far, and the gap to Renault is already 25 points. Naturally, we are determined to hold on to this third place until the end of the season."

 

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