Christijan Albers, newly promoted to a 2003 spec CLK at the start of this season, wasted no time proving Mercedes had made the right decision. A fifth place finish in the season opener at Hockenheim was the warm up to his maiden DTM victory in the...
Christijan Albers, newly promoted to a 2003 spec CLK at the start of this season, wasted no time proving Mercedes had made the right decision. A fifth place finish in the season opener at Hockenheim was the warm up to his maiden DTM victory in the second race at Adria. Albers won by a margin of eight seconds, which in the DTM is a comfortable gap.
"It was quite a surprise," the Dutchman told Motorsport.com. "Testing started earlier in the year and I was using the 2002 spec car, so I focused on a year of using an old car again. I tried to get the best out of it so I would be able to show as much as I could. The replacement was last minute, so yes, it was a surprise to me."
Having been using a year-old chassis in 2002 and expecting to be in the same situation again this season, to be driving a 2003 model -- and having an team mate like former champion Bernd Schneider -- has given Albers a real boost.
"It makes a big difference to me," he said of his change of circumstances. "I've got a teammate who was champion of the DTM and is very well experienced. I can really learn a lot from him; he tells me a lot and answers every question I have and that's great."
"I'm in the running for podium places again and able to score points. That's a really great feeling. I'm really happy that Norbert Haug, Hans Werner Aufrecht, Hans Jurgen Mattheis and Gerhard Ungar gave me this opportunity and I will show them their trust in me is not for nothing."
Albers started fourth on the grid at Adria, with Mercedes drivers Schneider and Marcel F?ssler, who took a one-two finish at Hockenheim, in front of him. Naturally everyone wanted to know how he gained the advantage in the race.
The heat at Adria was something all the drivers had to cope with; there were some worn out looking faces at the end of the race but Albers said it was only when he got out of the car that he noticed.
"While driving, it was ok," he said of the high temperature. "Of course, it was really hot but when you're driving you get a little wind in the car which makes it a bit easier. When I stepped out of my car it really hit me! Stopping and getting out of the rhythm of driving, then the heat hits you real bad -- it was only then I realised how heavy it was. During the race I didn't think about it -- don't think, just drive!"
By the final laps Albers had a fairly comfortable lead. He knew the win was coming but focused on getting to the line: "You think the end will never be there," he said. "My team told me to relax and not push too much. I didn't really think about how I felt, I just wanted the finish to be there!"
"Afterwards I felt, and still feel, great. I've really missed the podiums and of course the wins as well. It was great and makes me even more eager for good results in the next races."
Albers has tested for Minardi in Formula One and narrowly missed out on a race seat with the team for 2003. After the Adria win, rumours circulated that he was being lined up for a test with McLaren. While Christijan, obviously, would like such an opportunity, the DTM is his focus.
"This is all rumours and I know nothing about it," he commented. "I am concentrating on the DTM. I want to do a good job there and get more good results for the people who gave me their trust and this great opportunity."