Christijan Albers' increasingly tenuous hold on his Spyker drive took another step towards the exit door during the French Grand Prix, after the team seemingly blamed him for the pit-stop accident that saw the Dutchman leave his box with the fuel rig still attached to the car.

Although he pulled off the track immediately upon leaving the pit-lane, the incident marked the end of Albers' race less than halfway through. Even up until that point, the 28-year-old had been as much as a second a lap slower than rookie team-mate Adrian Sutil, who was forced to begin the race in the T-car after his own machine had developed an electrical problem on the grid shortly before the start.

"Obviously this was a very difficult race," admitted chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. "Christijan made a mistake and drove off when the lollipop was still down and the fuel hose was still attached. It was obviously a very dangerous situation and this sort of thing shouldn't have happened. As a team we now have to make sure we eliminate mistakes and perform at a much higher level."

"I am not happy and we have to learn from the mistakes that were made today," concurred team principal Colin Kolles.

To his credit, Albers put his hand up for the error, which he acknowledged could have been far more serious than it thankfully turned out to be.

"I think the most important thing is that the guys were ok and nobody was hurt in the accident," he underlined. "The first stint was quite ok at the beginning, but then I got a lot of oversteer and the balance changed a little bit. I think I just made a mistake in the pits; I thought the lollipop was going up. It was quite chaotic, but I am pleased the guys are ok; this is the first time in my life that this has happened, and hopefully the last."

Sutil, meanwhile, would go on to finish the race in 17th place, but not before overtaking his team-mate early on and setting lap times encouragingly close to the top six runners. A drive-through penalty for exceeding the pit-lane speed limit, however, would ultimately scupper any hopes he had of a better result.

"This was for sure not the perfect race," the German commented afterwards. "We had an electrical problem at the start and I had to change to the T-car, but after I had got used to it I could go faster and faster and the lap times were competitive. Unfortunately then I got a drive-through penalty for exceeding the pit-lane speed limit and dropped down. I will go through and check everything, but in the end we were just not fast enough this weekend and couldn't race any other cars. It is disappointing, but hopefully at Silverstone it will be much better."

 

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