Nick Heidfeld insists that he has no doubts about his ability to be a frontrunner in this year's Formula One world champion, and expects the new BMW Sauber contender to surprise his rivals.

Speaking on the eve of the BMW Sauber launch in Munich, Heidfeld, who finished fifth - and therefore best of the rest - behind the McLaren/Ferrari quartet in last year's world championship, claimed that the F1.08 was more advanced than its predecessor and could give the sport's 'big two' a fright this season.

"It looks very different to the car we had this past year," he told Germany's Bild, "Then we had a very simple vehicle, and many more details can be seen this year. Our opponents will be surprised when they see the car. We began [concentrating on the car] very much earlier than both top teams, so we had time for subtleties, and that should be a clear advantage for us."

BMW's schedule for its return to F1 prescribes a challenge for race wins in 2008, its third year in the top flight as an entrant and constructor in its own right, and Heidfeld admits that, should the team continue to achieve its goals, it would not be too soon.

"The last time I won a race was in F3000 in 1999 - and I can't even remember where it was or who stood next to me on the podium it was so long ago," he confessed, "But winning is the objective [for 2008] that we determined more than two years ago. Previously, we have always reached our goals, and I hope that we succeed this year too. I know that I can beat anyone, I have that self-confidence."

Insisting that 'in the end, I want to become world champion', Heidfeld also revealed that he expects BMW Sauber to help deliver that aim.

"I have been here since the beginning, and have a certain loyalty, but, if I see that things are developing in a direction that I don't agree with, I would go somewhere else. But we are a long way from that right now."

 

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