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The Circuit

BMW on track for 2009 title assault

  • Story Highlights
  • Boss Mario Theissen pleased with his team's performance in 2008
  • Driver Robert Kubica was in with a shout of the drivers' title until Chinese GP
  • BMW can still finish second in constructors' championship in Brazil
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Neale Graham
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen has hailed his team's Formula One season, despite Robert Kubica's failure to take his title charge down the wire.

Robert Kubica has been quick for BMW Sauber, putting him in title contention for much of the season.

The Swiss-German team have impressed throughout the year, earning 11 podiums and taking their first win.

Robert Kubica's consistency saw him fall out of contention for the championship only at the penultimate round in China and Theissen is adamant that the team has done what it set out to do this year.

"This has been our most successful season since the launch of the BMW Sauber F1 team," said Theissen. Read more about F1 at The Circuit.

"We have achieved our ambitious aims for the third year in succession. As things stand, we have now had 11 podium finishes this year, compared with two in 2007. This statistic alone is evidence of the considerable steps forward we have made."

BMW's rise to become the third power in F1 has been swift -- the team, which bought out Sauber after BMW decided to leave Williams as engine suppliers, only debuted in 2006.

By way of contrast, Toyota have been on the grid twice as long and have a larger budget, yet they are still waiting for their first win.

This year, BMW got their first fastest lap in Malaysia, their first pole position in Bahrain and then their first win in Canada. But Theissen underlined the old F1 maxim that to finish first, first you have to finish.

"The last time we went home empty-handed from a grand prix weekend was in Brazil in the final race of 2006," he said.

"We've now scored points in 34 consecutive races, something no other team can match. This achievement does not come down to chance. Our trump cards this season have been spotless reliability."

The team are still in with a shout of finishing second in this year's constructors' championship. They have 10 points to make up on McLaren in Brazil this weekend.

Pole Kubica will be hoping that BMW's ploughing of its resources into next year's car, which will be shaped by sweeping technical changes, will result in another shot at the championship. He and Germany's Nick Heidfeld have been confirmed as team-mates for the third season running.

"In terms of pure performance, we still have ground to make up on Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes, and we didn't make the progress we hoped to in the second half of the season," Theissen added.

"Indeed, some of our development projects did not yield the expected performance gains on the track.

"But I am certain we shall learn the lessons from this for 2009. After all, we want to be up there fighting for the world championship next season."

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