DTM season sensation Christijan Albers has revealed that his sadness at missing out on the championship title in Sunday's showdown with Mercedes team-mate Bernd Schneider is tempered by the knowledge that he had not expected to be in such a position at the start of the year.

The Dutchman had been lined up to drive a 2002-spec Mercedes before Uwe Alzen's split with the HWA squad gave him his big break but, even so, he still did not expect to be challenging multiple champion Schneider for the crown. It was only after back-to-back victories in the second and third rounds of the year that he began to believe, and eventually went into the finale at Hockenheim trailing Schneider by a single point.

At the German Grand prix circuit, the scrap for honours appeared to be boiling up nicely, only for Albers to suffer a tyre failure just as he was preparing to take the fight to the 'master'.

"I thank the HWA team for their efforts, they gave me a great car," the Dutch youngster said after trailing home in twelfth place, "The race today was great fun and, without the tyre failure, I would have had a great battle with Bernd.

"On the one hand, I'm a bit disappointed, but, on the other side, I'm satisfied about a season in which I scored four race victories."

The Dutchman came in for his first mandatory pit-stop on lap six, followed by Schneider one lap later. On lap 14, when the first round of stops was over, Schneider was fifth whilst Albers had improved to seventh position. Two laps later, Schneider made an early second stop due to a damaged left rear tyre and dropped to twelfth place, allowing Albers to 'lead' the championship.

After his second stop on lap 23, Albers rejoined the race behind Schneider and Timo Scheider but, two laps later, passed Scheider at the hairpin to assume second spot. However, another two laps later, again at the hairpin, the Dutchman slid off the track with a damaged left rear tyre while in Schneider's slipstream. He returned slowly to the pits for a third stop as his championship hopes slipped away.

"It was a thrilling race," Mercedes' motorsport director Norbert Haug confirmed, "When Bernd and Christijan were sixth and seventh in the race, everything was still possible. However, a tyre failure on Christijan's car ended the battle prematurely.

"I'm sorry for Christijan, as he performed well throughout the season, but Bernd deserves the title."



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