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Berger says BMW-Williams aim is to match Ferrari and McLaren

BMW motorsport director Gerhard Berger has said that the BMW-Williams team's aim next season will be to get on terms with Ferrari and McLaren. The team is all but certain of securing third place in the constructors' championship this year, and Berger is already thinking ahead to the 2001 season.

"Our new goal is to close the gap between us and McLaren and Ferrari," said Berger. "Everyone is going to improve so we have to make two steps at once. It is very difficult and we are working very hard for next year already."

"This season has gone a lot better than we expected, but we have a lot of good people behind us. At the end of the day, the results count."

Ferrari is certainly aware of the potential threat BMW-Williams can pose as the Italian marque's driver Michael Schumacher and sporting director Jean Todt praised the team, which will feature the driving talents of Michael's brother Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2001.

"What you have seen from BMW-Williams is what they can do in their first year, so next year they will be better," said Schumacher.

Todt added: "Williams seem to be the team that is the strongest behind us."

Schumacher's team-mate Rubens Barrichello also welcomed the chance to compete against another South American in Montoya as well as his longtime friend and fellow Brazilian Luciano Burti, who replaces Johnny Herbert at Jaguar.

Barrichello went to watch Colombian Montoya in action in the Champ Car series at Surfer's Paradise in Australia last weekend said: "I hope to see one more South American fighting for points. I saw the Indy car race last week and Montoya crashed on the first lap so I couldn't judge too much. But he has tire warmers next year, so he should be OK!"

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