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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berger Triumphs In Fiery Grand Prix

HOCKENHEIM, Germany -- Austrian Gerhard Berger won a dramatic and explosive German Grand Prix, delivering Ferrari's first victory since 1990.


Berger triumphed comfortably Sunday by more than 54 seconds ahead of Frenchman Olivier Panis in a Ligier in a race marred by a crash and a fire that ended with Dutchman Jos Verstappen and three Benetton mechanics being flown to the hospital with burns.


This was not the only incident to overshadow the race as virtually half of the 26-car field was wiped out on the first lap alone. Two major accidents, one on the grid and one on the first corner, reduced the field from 26 to 13 by the end of lap one, although both Williams cars returned by the end of lap three. No one was seriously injured in the mishaps.


Berger's win was made easy when the championship-leading German driver Michael Schumacher was forced to retire after chasing him in second place for 20 laps. Schumacher, driving under appeal against a two-race ban and six-point penalty, was hit by a blown engine on his Benetton.


Berger's win was the ninth of his career and his first since he won the Australian Grand Prix in a McLaren in November 1992.


"I am so happy," he said after his tumultuous reception on the victor's podium, the crowd having warmed to him after being unable to celebrate a home win by their hero Schumacher.


He was followed home by the two Ligiers driven by Frenchmen Olivier Panis and Eric Bernard. The points scored by Ligier were their first of the season and the first of Panis' career.


Italian driver Alessandro Zanardi was in a collision with compatriot Andrea de Cesaris' Sauber after de Cesaris himself had been hit from behind by another car. This triggered a multi-car crash and another collision in which it appeared that Britons Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert, in a McLaren and a Lotus respectively, were involved.


Another accident at the first corner involving Finland's Mika Hakkinen, who seemed to drive into the rear of Briton Damon Hill's Williams, involved David Coulthard of Britain in the second Williams, German Heinz-Harald Frentzen, in the second Sauber, and Mark Blundell of Britain in a Tyrrell.


International Automobile Federation stewards at Hockenheim later blamed the crashes on Hakkinen and suspended him from the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on Aug. 14. They said he "caused an avoidable collision and forced drivers off the track." (Reuters, AP)