Gerhard Berger's Decision to Race at Imola

Copied without permission from the Motoring News 5/5/94 To run or not to run ? All of the drivers faced that terribly difficult descision in the wake of Roland Ratzenberger's fatal accident on Saturday afternoon as qualifying resumed. For ...

Copied without permission from the Motoring News 5/5/94

To run or not to run ? All of the drivers faced that terribly difficult descision in the wake of Roland Ratzenberger's fatal accident on Saturday afternoon as qualifying resumed. For his compatriots, it was perhaps tougher still. Visibly very shaken, Gerhard Berger eventually decided that he _would_ drive, and afterwards was very candid as he explained how he came to make his choice.

"Most of you are going to ask whether it was right to continue to drive. Honestly, I saw the accident. I saw it in repeat and I know what happened. I know how heavy it was, how bad it was for the driver.

"I knew before I went out that the situation was critical. But without even knowing, I could feel it myself. It was the first time that I have found myself shaking after an accident. I was sitting in the car, I watched it on the monitor, and when they started to get him out of the car, I could sse that it was going to be very bad.

"Of course, in our job you are sometimes a bit prepared to see situations like this. But as it was another Austrian driver, as it was a personal contact to a person, it was even worse. I know that it should not make a difference between a driver that you know and a driver that you do not know. But it affects you in a different way.

"I went out from the car. I felt sick. I went to the motorhome and I was shaking, all my body. Then the difficult situation was coming, to say if I was going to drive or not.

"I told myself that it was not whether I was going to drive now. The question was whether I would drive tomorrow [in the race] and in the future, or if I was not going to drive at all. It was not related to this [Saturday] afternoon, it is related to whether you are prepared top have this risk or not. It was not going to make any difference to Roland if I drove or not. But I had to decide if I am prepared to still take risks like this.

"Honestly, yesterday [Friday], when Barrichello went off, it gave me a picture of how close sometimes we are between life and death. I saw it today. I was really on the limit.

"But I said to myself, 'Do you want to race tomorrow or are you not going to race ?' And I said I _was_ going to race.

"From this moment on, I told myself to concentrate on the job in because it was not going to make any difference to anybody. It was a difficult situation and it was _very_ hard."

The following day, Gerhard had to face the entire situation, all over again, once more with a friend, when he saw Senna's pit accident and then the incident in the Ferrari pit. One can but imagine the thoughts in his head as he left the circuit on Sunday evening.

-- Andrew Henry | Read the rec.autos.sport List of Frequently A.H.Henry@bath.ac.uk | Asked Questions v0.1 available by anonymous University of Bath, UK | ftp at mgu.bath.ac.uk _/Sempre Gilles

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Gerhard Berger , Roland Ratzenberger
Teams Ferrari