BMW Sauber can be a challenger in next year's Formula One world championship if it gets its sums right, confirmed team boss Dr Mario Theissen.

Having been 'best of the rest' in third place behind Ferrari and McLaren this season - a position Theissen insists on using despite McLaren's exclusion from the standings - the German team is pushing hard to close the gap for the 2008 campaign, with the man at its head happy to be starting from a strong base.

"As opposed to 2006, this year I didn't see a particular weakness," he told, "In 2006, we were quite slow on slow tracks, but this has been cured and it's now about finding the ultimate 3-5 per cent in all areas.

"Clearly, you can gain the most in terms of lap time from aero development, so that is what we are focusing on. I can say we are on track with the new car, both time-wise in terms of the schedule and also performance-wise. We have a target curve of what we want to achieve, and it looks good.

"Two years ago, we finished eighth in the constructors' championship, last year we achieved fifth and, this year, in our view, we are third - we were handed second place, but that doesn't really count. We are proud of third, though, and we are clearly on an upward slope, which gives us good motivation and a good basis for next year's car."

Despite rumours linking both of his drivers to other teams in recent weeks - and those suggesting that Nick Heidfeld would be the perfect foil to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren persisting - Theissen refused to be drawn on suggestions that he may have to look for a replacement.

"Continuity is an important factor in F1 - you need experienced people and you need an orchestrated team and effort," he insisted, "Only then can you be successful, so that is important to me."

Although quoted that he would have liked to have seen continuity on the technical front next year as well, Theissen admitted that BMW is knuckling down to address changes to the rules governing traction control and electronics, amongst others.

"In the first instance, it meant a lot of work for us, as well as additional costs, and we are still quite busy getting this work done, tuning the car and the dyno environment back in the factory to the new electronics, but I'm sure we will get it done," he revealed.



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