Gerhard Berger

Born:
27th August 1959 (Age 60)
Worgl, Tyrol
Nationality:
Austrian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Gerhard Berger might have only won 10 Grands Prix, and never won a championship at any level, but he was one of Formula 1’s true stars for a decade. With an impish sense of humour and charisma in abundance; Berger epitomised everything a modern racing driver should be. And he was a major player in the era of Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet…

Early racing career

He progressed from the Alfasud one-make series to F1 in just four years. After limited Formula Ford appearances Berger embarked on three seasons of Formula 3 – third in Germany in 1982 before switching to the European series. The Austrian impressed driving Dr Helmut Marko’s year-old Ralt RT3 and Pino Trivellato offered him a one-off drive in the 1983 Macau GP. He finished third when only beaten by Ayrton Senna and Roberto Guerrero.

The 1984 season was a busy one: third in European F3 with Trivellato, touring cars for Schnitzer BMW and a GP debut in Austria with a second ATS D7-BMW. He finished sixth at Monza in his second GP but he was ineligible to score points as his car was not entered in the World Championship.

Fulltime Formula 1 driver

Berger was determined – even a neck broken in a road accident that winter did not slow his F1 progress. BMW placed Berger first at Arrows, and then in the new Benetton team for 1986. Its turbocharged engine was now the most powerful in F1 (especially in qualifying trim) and the combination produced a series of stirring performances that season. He led for the first 25 laps in Austria and used his Pirelli tyres to run non-stop to score a popular first GP victory in Mexico.

Grand Prix star with Ferrari and McLaren

The lure of Ferrari proved irresistible in 1987 and Berger was the class-of-the-field by the end of the year – winning the final two races. That established Berger as a pre-season favourite for the 1988 World Championship but McLaren-Honda, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were on another level that year. They won every race except the Italian GP at Monza, just a month after the death of Enzo Ferrari. Berger inherited an emotional victory when Senna crashed while lapping a backmarker.

However, Berger was lucky to survive a fiery accident at Imola’s fearsome Tamburello corner at the start of 1989 but he returned to win that autumn’s Portuguese GP. Ferrari signed Prost for the following season so Berger switched to McLaren as Senna’s team-mate.

He formed a strong bond with the complex Brazilian superstar. Whether it was Berger’s personality which contrasted the bitter feud endured with Prost or whether he was less of a challenge, Berger’s arrival lifted Ayrton and the team and Senna won back-to-back titles. In appreciation of Berger’s support, the champion slowed after the final corner at Suzuka in 1991 to give Berger his first McLaren victory.

Berger won the 1992 Canadian and Australian GPs in what was his final season before returning to Ferrari. However, the Scuderia was in decline and three seasons included just one victory (the 1994 German GP). And when the team signed Michael Schumacher for 1996, Berger moved on once more.

The return to Benetton

Back to Benetton that year – victory at Hockenheim was lost in the closing stages by the lack of reliability that blighted his season. However, pole position, fastest lap and a dominant performance at the 1997 German GP gave Berger a final win during his last season as an F1 driver. It was a welcome last hurrah for a charismatic hero.

Berger started 210 GPs and finished in a career-best third in the world championships of 1988, 1990 and 1994. He remained in the sport’s upper echelons – first as BMW’s Director of Motorsport and later as co-owner of the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 concern.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1997 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Renault
14 1 2 1
8% win rate
5th 27
1996 F1 World Championship
Mild Seven Benetton Renault
16 0 2 0
0% win rate
6th 21
1995 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
17 1 6 0
0% win rate
6th 31
1994 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
16 2 6 1
7% win rate
3rd 41
1993 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
8th 12
1992 F1 World Championship
Honda Marlboro McLaren
16 0 5 2
13% win rate
5th 49
1991 F1 World Championship
Honda Marlboro McLaren
16 2 6 1
7% win rate
4th 43
1990 F1 World Championship
Honda Marlboro McLaren
16 2 7 0
0% win rate
3rd 43
1989 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
15 0 3 1
7% win rate
7th 21
1988 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
16 1 5 1
7% win rate
3rd 41
1987 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
16 3 3 2
13% win rate
5th 36
1986 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 2 1
7% win rate
7th 17
1985 F1 World Championship
Barclay Arrows BMW
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 3
1985 World Endurance Championship
Brun Motorsport
1 0 0 0 56th 6
1985 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft 1 0 0 0
0% win rate
30th 11
1984 F1 World Championship
Team ATS
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 European F3 Championship
Trivellato Racing Team
11 1 7 2
19% win rate
3rd 49
1983 European F3 Championship
Helmut Marko
12 (1) 0 3 0
0% win rate
7th 18
1982 European F3 Championship
Josef Kaufmann Racing
3 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0