It was during the McLaren years that Gerhard Berger became most famous for his humorous side. Popular accounts tell of many ingenious practical jokes thought up by the Austrian to break through the serious, focused and unyielding Ayrton Senna. Senna, accepting the challenge, quickly submitted, and spurred on by team manager Ron Dennis the practical joking escalated.
Accounts tell of an incident at Monza where in a joint helicopter ride Senna had been showing off his new tailor made briefcase. Having been made of carbon fibre composite, Senna argued that it should be virtually indestructible. Berger, without much hesitation and much to Senna’s disbelief, opened the door of the helicopter and threw the briefcase out, to test the hypothesis.
"It fell somewhere near the course but we found it again," Berger recalled with a cheeky grin.
On another occasion, in an Australian hotel room Berger filled Senna’s bed with animals. Senna understandably infuriated, confronted Berger by saying;
“I’ve spent the last hour catching 12 frogs in my room,” to which Berger replied, “Did you find the snake?”
“Actually they weren’t frogs, they were bigger, more like toads. In Australia they have this kind of stuff. I thought he liked animals but clearly not,” Berger explained.
It was an incident that prompted retaliation by Senna, who then proceeded to put a strong smelling French cheese in the air conditioning unit of Berger’s room.