JULY 21, 1997

Berger back in business

GERHARD BERGER will be back with Benetton at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim next weekend. The soon-to-be-38-year-old Austrian has been out of action since the Spanish GP because of sinus problems, which have forced him to undergo two operations.

Berger tested for the team at Monza last week and on Friday the team confirmed that test driver Alexander Wurz would be standing down for Berger. Wurz has been linked with a drive for Sauber but may have decided against the move, hoping to become a Benetton driver next season.

Berger, who attended the funeral of his father on Monday, was fortunate to avoid a big accident during the Monza testing when his throttle stuck open and he went off at 185mph on the run down to the Roggia chicane. "It was the scariest moment of my life," Berger reported. "There is not enough run-off at that corner. I was lucky to get the left front wheel on the grass as that made the car spin five or six times and I ended up at the exit of the chicane, the car pointing in the right direction and the throttle still open."

Berger said that his enthusiasm for the sport is as high as ever and that he wants to go on racing for another two or three more seasons. It remains to be seen whether or not there are any teams who want Berger next year. Sauber is a strong possibility as it is looking for a topline driver to partner Johnny Herbert and Fritz Kaiser, who manages Gerhard's business affairs, is commercial and marketing director of the team.