Berger puts on a show for the ages with Ferrari 640 at Goodwood


Gerhard Berger was back in action this weekend at the wheel of an F1 car when he was reunited with his 1989 Ferrari 640 at Goodwood’s 81st Members’ Meeting.

The ten-time Grand Prix winner didn't hold back as he put on a show for the ages, the Austrian unleashing the full power of his car’s 3.5-litre V12 engine, reminiscent of its glory days as he roared down Goodwood's start-finish straight, showering sparks.

The sight and sound of the '640' ignited a wave of nostalgia among the ecstatic crowds who were transported back to one of F1's most illustrious eras.

“I was thinking yesterday, I don’t think I have driven it since ’89. Funnily enough the pedals, the mirrors, everything was just perfect,” commented Berger after his maiden demo run on Saturday.

“The clutch was a bit difficult for pulling away but it was fine after that. It’s a great car.”

Berger is obviously no longer accustomed to handling high-performance thoroughbred cars. Therefore, pushing the 640 to its limits was quite a surprising experience for the 64-year-old F1 veteran.

“I felt a little sick, because I’m not used to the G-forces anymore,” he admitted with a chuckle.”


While Ferrari’s 640 is certainly in the running as one of the most beautiful F1 cars of all-time, it’s track record is lackluster at best, an insufficiency rooted in the car’s innovative but very unreliable semi-automatic gearbox.

“I was the first in charge of driving it at Maranello,” recounted Berger. “To be honest after two or three laps I came in and said ‘Well, every car will have this in the future once it works’.

“For the first time, you had both hands on the steering wheel, you could shift in corners, you could be much more confident. It was just great. That was the upside.

“The downside was it never worked more than five laps, because there was still a lot in the control area going wrong and in the first year we had a lot of failures.

“We couldn’t do test mileage, we couldn’t sort the setup because we ran out of time because we were chasing problems.”

“But the car was great and the gearbox was great. When we finished the races we always finished well.”

Berger then highlighted the most profound connection he shares with this car, a bond that secures its special place in his heart: the 640’s incredibly strong tub was the protective shield he needed to survive his massive crash and fiery blaze at Imola’s Tamburrello turn.

“I have to say, I survived a terrible accident with this car in Imola,” he explained.

“The carbon chassis was so well done that I could survive. We registered a 120g impact and I still survived. The car saved my life. I have a personal thanks for it.”

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