BMW-Sauber gearing to win championship in 2009

BMW-Sauber's new Formula One car is the first step in a three-year plan that the team hopes will make it a world champion by 2009.

"Victories on our own merit are not yet a realistic prospect for 2007. We are aiming for that in 2008," BMW Motorsports director Mario Theissen said. "In 2009 we want to be in contention for the world championship title."

Theissen unveiled the new F1.07 on Tuesday, a race car he called "the first BMW-Sauber."

The F1.07 will be carrying less weight and features a shorter, raised nose, a slimmed-down rear and a revised cooling system.

BMW took over Swiss-based Sauber in 2005 after parting ways with Williams. The team finished fifth in the constructors' standings in 2006 with 36 points 50 behind of fourth-place Honda.

"After our good maiden season we now have to continue along our set path," German driver Nick Heidfeld said. "But one can't expect too much because the higher you go, the more rarified the atmosphere."

Heidfeld finished third at the Hungarian Grand Prix on his way to a ninth-place finish in the drivers' standings with 23 points. Robert Kubica had the team's only other podium placing at the Italian GP in Monza when the Polish driver finished third in only the third race of his career, reports AP.

"I learned a lot in 2006," Kubica said. "And I want to put it into practice in 2007 and learn more. To stand on the podium for the first time after a Formula One race was an incredible experience. I want more of it."

Kubica replaced former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, who was dropped from the team in August.

The 2007 F1 season begins with the Australian Open in Melbourne on March 18.

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