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Gerhard Berger’s stolen Ferrari found in London after 28 years

Berger's recovered red Ferrari F512M stolen in 1995
Berger's recovered red Ferrari F512M, which was stolen in 1995

The last time former Formula One driver Gerhard Berger saw his Ferrari F512M Testarossa was in 1995 as he chased it down in a Volkswagen Golf in the hope of catching its thief.

Now it has reemerged, with polished alloys and perfect red body work, in the same prime condition it was when it was stolen almost 29 years ago.

The luxury motor was stolen in an audacious robbery at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, in April 1995, alongside a silver-grey Ferrari F355 belonging to fellow F1 driver Jean Alesi.

Gerhard Berger, right, and Jean Alesi, left, both had Ferraris stolen at the San Marino Grand Prix
Gerhard Berger, right, and Jean Alesi, left, both had Ferraris stolen at the San Marino Grand Prix - Ben Radford/Hulton Archive

While Alesi did not witness anyone making off with his car when it was parked at their luxury hotel, Berger, a 10-time Grand Prix winner, did spot his Ferrari being stolen and attempted to stop the robbery. Seeing his car leaving its parking space, the Austrian ran into its path, but after realising the robber had no intention of stopping, had to jump out of the way.

It was driven off at high speed down a narrow road before Berger got behind the wheel of a friend’s Volkswagen Golf in pursuit. Despite being in good form that weekend, finishing third on the Grand Prix podium, he was unable to catch up with the thief on the old, cobbled streets of Imola.

Only 501 of the Ferrari models were made and the supercar was believed to be stolen to order, with Italian police originally thinking it was destined for the Middle East.

The car was found in pristine condition during its sale by a British broker to a US buyer
The car was found in pristine condition during its sale by a British broker to a US buyer - Metropolitan Police Handout

It was not seen again until January this year, when the Metropolitan Police received a report from Ferrari after the manufacturer had carried out checks on a car being sold to an American buyer through a British broker last year.

Officers from the Organised Vehicle Crime Unit discovered it had been shipped to Japan shortly after being stolen and was then brought to the UK in late 2023.

The car was tracked down and seized by the Met to prevent it from being exported from the UK, however Alesi’s stolen Ferrari remains missing and no arrests have been made.

Pc Mike Pilbeam, who led the investigation, said: “We managed to track it down in just four days. Our enquiries were painstaking and included contacting authorities from around the world.

“We worked quickly with partners including the National Crime Agency, as well as Ferrari and international car dealerships. This collaboration was instrumental in understanding the vehicle’s background and stopping it from leaving the country.”

Berger raced for Ferrari for 14 seasons winning ten Grand Prix, coming in the top three in 48 races and twice finishing third overall in the 1980s and 90s. He also drove for Benetton and McLaren during his career.

In 2023, the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit recovered 418 vehicles with a combined value of £31 million. Of these, 326 have been linked to organised criminal gangs, making up £21 million of the total value of vehicles seized.

Scotland Yard have contacted Berger over the vehicle but despite the three-decade wait there are still doubts over whether he will ever see the Ferrari again.

If the insurer previously paid out when it was stolen, it could be the rightful owner and the Met advises owners of stolen vehicles that the “insurance company may have a claim to the vehicle and want to pay the charges and collect it themselves.”

It is believed to be the longest time passing between a vehicle being stolen and then recovered in Europe. Insurance industry sources said it was likely the insurer paid out at the time, adding it was unheard of for a car to be recovered after such a long length of time.