Mar.26 (GMM) Following two consecutive second place finishes for the German team in 2008, F1's Big Two, Ferrari and McLaren, are wary of the threat that BMW-Sauber now poses.
"For me, BMW is a serious rival," Norbert Haug, boss of McLaren's engine and equity partner Mercedes-Benz, admitted to the news agency SID.At Sepang, following Nick Heidfeld's second at Albert Park, Robert Kubica's pace behind winner Kimi Raikkonen was never challenged, and Heidfeld posted the fastest lap of the race."After two races they are five points behind us. This is obviously nothing," Haug, referring to McLaren's constructors' championship lead, added."They seem to have the speed, so next time perhaps they will already be right out the front," the German said.Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali agrees that, after proving the third force in 2007, BMW is now right in the fray."They are there," the Italian noted. "We need to respect them a lot, and we do, because they are in a position to take points away from us."To the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, BMW chief Mario Theissen remains firm that the team's goal for 2008 is to win a race or two.But he warned: "No one should draw premature conclusions. We are still not on eye-level with the two top teams."But we are on the right course. Our car still has potential; we have not reached our maximum yet," Theissen said.