Only a few days after Christijan Albers' manager said he was confident a deal could be reached with Minardi, Paul Stoddart has turned down offers from the Dutchman's sponsors. Lodewijk Varossieau, Albers' manager, had said only the details remained to be finalized but a statement on Albers' website has now revealed that Stoddart and sponsors could not agree on contracts. It appears the young Dutch driver will continue to race in the German Touring Car (DTM) series in 2003.

"Formula 1 remains the ultimate goal for me so I do not give up my hopes," said Albers. "I know I can make it. My sponsors made a fantastic offer to Paul, which he unfortunately could not accept. Fortunately there is still a lot to win for me with Mercedes in DTM and since I am only 23 there is enough time to become F1 driver."

"I still hope that I can start my career with Paul Stoddart and Minardi F1. I really like the team and hope that they get stronger soon. I look forward to the next season and hope it will be as successful as the year in which I became F3 champion. I want to win again and I am topfit."

According to the statement, Albers hopes to get more F1 experience as test driver for Minardi or "another team that has shown serious interest." The latest driver to be linked to Minardi is ex-Sauber man Felipe Massa and with Albers seemingly out of the running, it's anyone's guess who will end up alongside Justin Wilson. If you've got a spare few million pounds, go stand next to a Minardi, you never know.…..