Magazine | Memory Lane
Berger saved from fire0%

1989 BERGER SAVED FROM FIRE

If there’s a milestone in OMP history, this must be San Marino GP 1989. A crash, a fire and the ghost of 1976 neutralized by a new generation racewear

Formula One World Championship nineteen eighty-nine. On a sunny April afternoon, the San Marino GP takes place in Imola.

During the qualifying, Gerhard Berger has squeezed his Ferrari to the last drop, but all he could get was a 5th place in starting grid. Still, he’s determined to climb as many positions as he can, in front of a quite totally Ferrari red crowd on the stands.

His race lasts a few minutes.
At lap four, Gerhard’s Ferrari 640 spreads off the track at Tamburello corner at an estimated 180 mph speed. A crash, and suddenly the car is engulfed in flames.

I actually don’t remember anything about the race up until the accident,” says Berger. “It is funny how the brain works because I remember every single detail of the accident and impact itself but nothing before. I tried steering…nothing, then I tried braking….nothing. I just said shit….now I brace for impact and just pray.”, Berger would recall later.

"I remember every single detail of the accident and impact itself but nothing before. I tried steering…nothing, then I tried braking….nothing. I just said shit….now I brace for impact and just pray"

The ghost of 1976, of Niki Lauda’s near-miss with death is kicked out in 26 eternal seconds, when the marshals, after extinguishing the fire, put the driver out of the car: he’s alive and well, the fire-retardant racewear saved his life, and that racewar is by OMP.

If there’s a milestone in OMP history, this must be San Marino 1989. OMP made its way into F1 racewear in 1981, but the Imola episode was the proof that the path was right. Also, it was the chance to raise the bar: the Nomex III suit with 3 layers was soon improved with a further fire retardant layer.


GERHARD BERGER
Birthdate: 27 August 1989
The Austrian competed in Formula One for 14 seasons, from 1984 to 1997. With 210 starts he is amongst the most experienced Formula One. He won ten Grands Prix, achieved 48 podiums, 12 poles and 21 fastest laps. His best overall finishes are two third places (1988 and 1994), both times driving a Ferrari.

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1989