Compliments don't come much more treasured than the one paid to the BMW Sauber team by Michael Schumacher last week.

The seven-times world champion bestowed fulsome praise on the F1.08 contender, saying that he expected them to be one of the most impressive performers of the 2008 season; perhaps capable of ruffling the feathers of established front runners Ferrari and McLaren. 

"I would expect to see a very close fight between the two main teams, but then I would also expect to see Renault and BMW able to close the gap and they may enter into the top two," he observed.

Flattered by Schumacher's comments, BMW Sauber duly signalled its determination not to disappoint him in the bid to become the third front running force from the very start of the 2008 world championship which gets underway in Melbourne on March 16.

The team's new F1.08 challenge builds on the technology already honed to an impressively fine edge from last year's car which ended up second to Ferrari in the constructors' world championship, albeit only after McLaren's tally of points was wiped from the record book after they were found guilty of illegally acquiring Ferrari technical data.