Germany are trying to get their World Cup preparations back on track after a sponsor’s event involving Formula One driver Nico Rosberg went badly wrong.
Two people were taken to hospital after being hit by a car driven by professional touring car driver Pascal Wehrlein during a Mercedes demonstration at the team’s training camp in Northern Italy on Tuesday.
Germany players Benedikt Howedes and Julian Draxler had been riding in cars driven by Wehrlein and Rosberg at the time of the incident and, although the players quickly returned to training, national team general manager Oliver Bierhoff said yesterday it had left the squad in a state of shock.
“Both drivers are really shocked,” he said. “The players too. They wanted to speak only briefly and then rejoin the group. There is great shock within the team.”
German daily Bild reported that Rosberg slowed his car to avoid hitting a spectator who had walked on to the track, followed by a marshal, and Wehrlein swerved to avoid him but hit the two people, one of whom was airlifted to hospital shortly before 3pm local time on Tuesday. The spectator was initially said to be seriously injured but reports in Germany yesterday said that their condition had improved.
Howedes helped with the initial treatment at the scene but played down his role.
“I have done nothing that anyone else would not do,” he said. “In such a situation obviously you want to help. I think the images will remain in my head for some time. I have spoken with the coaches and the team and that has helped.”
Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira added: “We talked in groups within the team, along with Bene and Julian. Such accidents can happen from time to time, but we must still focus on our work. We wish the best to everybody involved.”
Rosberg, who leads the 2014 Formula One drivers’ standings after his win in Monaco last weekend, said on Twitter: “I am shocked by the accident. My thoughts are with the two people who were injured and I wish them a fast recovery.”
A statement on Mercedes-Benz Motorsport’s Facebook page said: “An accident occurred during a visit to the training camp of the German National Football Team: while driving on a closed circuit, DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein injured two people whom he unexpectedly encountered walking on the closed course.
“We cannot offer any statement concerning the severity of injuries, as both injured parties are currently undergoing medical treatment.
“Pascal Wehrlein was uninjured in the accident. We deeply regret this accident and send wishes of quick recovery to the injured.
“We will work in full cooperation with the authorities in determining the exact circumstances of the accident.”