by Chris Hayes

It has been a dream start to the season for BMW despite all sorts of technical niggles in pre-season testing.

Robert Kubica set the track alight in qualifying ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix planting his BMW on the front row, while team-mate Nick Heidfeld went on to dazzle the Melbourne crowd in the race by clinching second place.

A week later and it was Robert Kubica's turn to taste champagne after he romped home to a career best second place behind Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

As the Hinwil and Munich based outfit fly out to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the third race in the 2008 F1 campaign, all eyes are on a third consecutive podium.

"I hope that we can continue our successful run and qualify for the first two or three rows on the grid," professed BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen.

"If we manage that, then there is always a good chance of finishing in a podium position."

However, Kubica and Heidfeld will not have the luxury of any new aerodynamic components at the Bahrain International Circuit - a mechanically demanding track with a string of short straights preceded by tight low gear corners. The first major design overhaul for the F1.08 is scheduled for the start of the European season which kicks of in Barcelona.

"There will not be many new components in Bahrain. We will take a big step in Barcelona. However, there will be a few small modifications for Bahrain," Theissen stressed.

Robert Kubica meanwhile is remaining cautious about his chances of replicating his inspired drive in Sepang a week ago.

"I prefer to keep my feet on the ground," declared the 23-year-old. "It is still too early to say that we have achieved the targets set for this season. Let's not forget that in order to win races, we must not just close the gap, but need to be quicker than the others."

The Polish sensation has also been quick to warn that a race-winning pace doesn't come over night and has to be built up incrementally over the course of the season.

"We have been lurking around the top spot for the past two races now, and this gives us even more motivation to work even harder to close the gap. Then it's also important to remember that a victory cannot be 'programmed' but must be built step by step."

Nick Heidfled, finished sixth in Malaysia after losing out the start; a knock with Toyota's Jarno Trulli put him back to eighth place. The highlight of the German's race was an awe-inspiring overtaking manoeuvre on David Coulthard and Fernando Alonso as they raced side-by-side down the back straight.

"Overtaking Alonso and Coulthard at the same time, in the opening stages of the race, was really big fun," the 30-year old admitted. "For me, this was the crucial move on the way to securing the best possible result after having lost several positions due to the close encounter with Trulli."

The 30-year-old set the fastest lap in Malaysia underlining the BMW's pace ahead of next week's grand prix.

"I didn't expect that we would be able to match the pace of the McLarens in Malaysia, and even be slightly faster than them in the closing stages of the race. Compared to the off-season tests, we have made a huge leap."

 

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