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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The long-standing F1 team-mates who crashed Todt’s automotive

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The careers of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger really feel entwined, given their 5 Method 1 seasons as team-mates and simultaneous strikes from Ferrari to Benetton for 1996.

Berger rejoined Ferrari for 1993 after three years at McLaren, having beforehand spent three seasons on the Scuderia. Satirically, given the genial relationship that lay forward, Alesi instantly seen the arrival of Berger – by now an eight-time race winner as a giant menace.

“I used to be shocked about this very dangerous season we had in 1992,” says Alesi. “However I used to be giving my most as all the time, to maintain [morale in] the group up. Once they signed Gerhard for ’93, he arrived as a physician, you already know, an skilled driver to repair the group, and that irritated me so much.

Gazzetta dello Sport reported all the small print of his contract as primary driver, so I complained to Niki [Lauda] and he was tremendous as all the time. ‘Don’t fear,’ he mentioned. ‘Jean, simply ask for extra money!’

“I mentioned, ‘Niki, I don’t give a shit about cash, I simply need the identical place and standing as him within the group.’ So, he mentioned he would discuss to [Luca] di Montezemolo, and he got here again the following day to inform me he’d organized for me to be gifted an F1 automotive from 1992! I mentioned, ‘Niki, that was not what I requested for…’ however it labored out OK.

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“After we began work collectively on the monitor, I discovered Gerhard a particularly reasonable individual, he was very straight. And this I appreciated. After all, he was an important competitor, however he understood that this standing as ‘primary’ was probably not helpful to him, so he by no means went to the group and demanded extra testing or something. We had equal therapy.”

Picture by: Ercole Colombo

Alesi was initially cautious when Berger joined him at Ferrari for 1993

They began as team-mates in 77 grands prix from 1993 to 1997 (three years at Ferrari then each moved to Benetton in 1996 as Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine arrived). Between them they gained three races, with Berger triumphing in Germany in 1994 and 1997 and Alesi’s sole profession win in Canada 1995.

Throughout their first season collectively, Alesi grew to become all too conscious of Berger’s penchant for sensible jokes. And he discovered this to his value when Berger pranked him one fateful day on the Fiorano check monitor.

“It’s a very fashionable story between our buddies, as a result of now we have the Gerhard model and my model,” says Alesi. “My model could be very simple: I used to be ready within the workplace on the manufacturing facility earlier than I used to be due on monitor, and Gerhard was testing at Fiorano that morning. However they needed to change the gearbox or one thing.

“I begin like loopy, we got here out of the manufacturing facility and turned on to the roads to Fiorano. And at every nook I used to be doing, he was pulling the handbrake” Jean Alesi

“He got here to the manufacturing facility and when he noticed me, he says ‘Jean, I’ve to make some cellphone calls however take me again to Fiorano later’ and I mentioned ‘OK, no drawback’. However I realised that I had no automotive on the manufacturing facility. And the primary automotive I noticed was Jean Todt’s automotive. It was a brand-new [Lancia] Ypsilon 10 with a particular color, a particular inside – he waited a very long time for this automotive. So I took this one.

“Gerhard bought in and put his seat most to the rear, placed on his seatbelt, and mentioned ‘You possibly can push in order for you’. You can not say that to me, you already know?! [laughs] I begin like loopy, we got here out of the manufacturing facility and turned on to the roads to Fiorano. And at every nook I used to be doing, he was pulling the handbrake. The automotive was going up on two and three wheels and I used to be saying ‘Gerhard! Cease! Cease!’ And he didn’t, he simply stored doing it.

“I used to be simply making the final nook inside Fiorano, so I braked and once more he pulled the handbrake and the automotive… I don’t assume now we have accomplished it twice – as a substitute of going to its aspect, the automotive went up over its nostril and onto its roof!

“I had no seatbelt, so I ended up on my knees – I used to be fortunate I wasn’t badly damage. And Gerhard had his head down. I checked out him and began laughing a lot. ‘That is Jean Todt’s automotive!’

Alesi and Berger both made the move from Benetton to Ferrari for 1996

Picture by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Alesi and Berger each made the transfer from Benetton to Ferrari for 1996

“We needed to get out of the automotive by way of the again, the mechanics had run over to us – they didn’t know who it was to start out with – and opened the trunk so we might get out. They mentioned: ‘Are you loopy?! Are you loopy?!’

“I used to be bleeding somewhat bit from my head, Gerhard was OK as a result of he had the seatbelt on. They put me in a small ambulance subsequent to the airplane in Fiorano. The mechanics put the automotive again on its wheels and lined it up.

“And simply as they pushed it to the aspect, proper at this second, arriving on the monitor have been Jean Todt, John Barnard and Luca di Montezemolo. However they didn’t know they usually didn’t see something of the crash.

“Ultimately they returned to the manufacturing facility and that’s after they came upon what had actually occurred. They usually have been actually, actually upset with me!” Jean Alesi

“Gerhard ran to the F1 automotive and placed on his helmet. They began the automotive and he left whereas I used to be watching from the ambulance. I used to be peeking out of the window and will see Jean Todt trying on the instances of Gerhard, after which he pitted.

“Jean Todt goes to Gerhard, and I might see that they have been speaking however I couldn’t hear what he mentioned. I came upon later that he mentioned ‘Did you communicate with Jean? As a result of he had an accident!’ Ultimately they returned to the manufacturing facility and that’s after they came upon what had actually occurred. They usually have been actually, actually upset with me!”

For the file, Berger’s model is that they didn’t know whose automotive it was after they took it, however “Jean was driving like an fool so I put the protection belt on and I mentioned: ‘OK, you do what you need.’ After which I began taking part in with the handbrake…”

Todt was not so happy when he learned of his drivers' antics

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Todt was not so blissful when he discovered of his drivers’ antics

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