Nick Heidfeld is wryly confident that BMW could spring a surprise on McLaren and Ferrari during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, if their performances last season are anything to go by.

BMW enjoyed their finest race last season when Heidfeld qualified on the second row and team-mate Robert Kubica went on to score a landmark podium finish.

However, the fact that this season's BMW machine is far more accomplished - and successful - than last season's means Heidfeld is confident that both himself and Kubica can put in a performance more on a par with the McLaren and Ferrari teams that have been just out of reach all year.

Indeed, part of the reason for Heidfeld's encouragement is the need for speed around the Italian circuit, something BMW, who powered Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya to the fastest ever lap recorded in Formula 1 in 2002, is renowned for providing.

"I think we'll put in a good performance at Monza. It's a circuit where a good low downforce package is important, and we're normally pretty strong in that area. The other thing you need is bags of engine power, and I think we'll be okay in that department as well.

"We were right up there at Monza in 2006. I was only third in qualifying, but that was with a heavy fuel load. If we had all been carrying the same amount of fuel, I would most likely have been on pole. In the race itself, I still managed to get a point despite having to come in for a drive-through penalty."

However, while Heidfeld lauds Monza, he is another to raise concerns about the safety aspect for the circuit, claiming the run-off areas are still to small.

"Monza is a very special circuit, the only real high-speed track left in Formula One. We hit speeds of up to 350 km/h on the straights, faster than at any other venue during the season. Monza has a lot of tradition and character, but unfortunately also rather outdated safety provisions. Given the high speeds we are driving at, the run-off areas are pretty small."



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