ST MARTIN Italy (Reuters) - German players have been left in a state of shock when two people were struck and injured by one of the cars at a sponsor’s driving event, team manager Oliver Bierhoff said on Wednesday.
A 63-year-old German tourist and a local man hired as a course marshal were taken to hospital on Tuesday afternoon after being hit in the driving event staged by team sponsor Mercedes at Germany’s pre-World Cup camp in Italy.
Germany internationals Julian Draxler and Benedikt Hoewedes were passengers in the vehicles driven by German Touring Car (DTM) driver Pascal Wehrlein, who hit the two men, and Formula One driver Nico Rosberg.
“It was a big shock for the team, although just two players were involved,” Bierhoff told a news conference.
”Most of the players were resting and some were playing golf with (former world number one) Martin Kaymer at the time.
“Julian Draxler and Hoewedes were the two who experienced it and were extremely affected by it. Four more were waiting to take part in the event when they heard of the accident.”
The tourist suffered more severe injuries than the local man, who had attempted to remove him from the course and sustained only minor injuries, but no further details of their condition were made available.
“Julian and Benedikt had the need to discuss it afterwards,” Bierhoff added. “We immediately made our sports psychologist available, who talked with both the drivers and the players.”
Bierhoff said he and the drivers had visited the injured men in hospital.
The Germans have been preparing for next month’s World Cup in Brazil at an Alpine hotel since last week and will remain there until June 1.
Local police chief Johann Ramoser said the course had been cordoned off securely.
“The course had been made safe for the event and was well sealed off,” he told the news conference.
Mercedes spokeswoman Claudia Merzbach said the event was neither a speed event nor was it a racing event but merely the presentation and test drive of two new vehicles.
“It was a product presentation in a closed course. Two people were injured. We cannot and are not allowed to say more. This was not a race but just a presentation of the two vehicles.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O'Brien