Formula One legend Gerhard Berger's stolen £350,000 Ferrari found by Met Police after 28 years

A Ferrari stolen from Formula One legend Gerhard Berger in a dramatic theft at the San Marino Grand Prix has been recovered after 28 years.

The Testarossa F512M – worth an estimated £350,000 – was taken in April 1995 as the driver was preparing to compete in the Grand Prix in Imola in Italy.

Berger reportedly came across the theft in progress, and made a valiant - but ultimately unsuccessful - effort to stop the crime.

The Austrian F1 driver first ran into the path of the bright red Ferrari as it was being driven away, and jumped clear just in time as the thief showed no intention of stopping.

Berger then commandeered a friend’s VW Golf to give chase, but was unable to catch up with the supercar.

The theft happened on the same weekend that a silver-grey Ferrari 355 belonging to fellow Formula One driver Jean Alesi was also stolen in Imola.

The supercar belonging to Alesi, then in his final season as Berger’s teammate at Ferrari before being replaced by Michael Shumacher, has never been found.

 (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
(Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
 (Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)
(Metropolitan Police/PA Wire)

But on Monday the Metropolitan Police announced that Berger’s Ferrari has now been recovered, more than 28 years later.

In January, a report was passed to the Met from Ferrari about checks on a car being bought by a US buyer via a UK broker.

The vehicle turned out to be stolen, and officers from the Met’s Organised Vehicle Crime Unit carried out enquiries across the world to identify the car as belonging to Berger.

The Ferrari, which had been shipped to Japan shortly after it was stolen, was tracked down and Met officers took possession to stop the sale out of the UK.

Gerhard Berger (right) celebrates after finishing third in the San Marino Grand Prix, after his car was stolen (Getty Images)
Gerhard Berger (right) celebrates after finishing third in the San Marino Grand Prix, after his car was stolen (Getty Images)

“The stolen Ferrari – close to the value of £350,000 – was missing for more than 28 years before we managed to track it down in just four days”, said PC Mike Pilbeam, who led the investigation.

“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, and this collaboration was instrumental in understanding the vehicle’s background and stopping it from leaving the country.”

No one has been arrested in connection with the car sale or the original theft.

Berger, who spent 14 seasons in Formula One, departed from Ferrari with Alesi to Benetton after the arrival of Schumacher. He scored two third places in the drivers’ championship during his racing career.

At the 1995 San Marino Grand Prix, Alesi came in second and Berger was third – the only time they shared a podium as Ferrari teammates - in a race won by Britain’s Damon Hill.