Williams garage gutted by fire after Grand Prix win
SEVEN Formula One personnel were taken to hospital, and 31 tended to by circuit doctors, after a fire gutted the Williams garage while the team were celebrating winning Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The former champions had earlier gathered outside the Circuit de Catalunya garage for a team photograph to mark Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado’s first career victory and their first in nearly eight years.
Team founder and principal Frank Williams, who is in a wheelchair, had been in the garage when it filled with smoke and flames but was quickly wheeled to safety, his daughter Claire said.
The blaze was fought by staff from Williams, Caterham and Force India from the pit-lane side before circuit fire services arrived.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said all but seven of the 31-team members who went to the Circuit Medical Centre had been released.
The seven were transferred to local hospitals for treatment.
Williams said the fire had “originated from the fuel area” and three of their staff were in hospital.
“The team, the fire services and the police are working together to determine the root cause of the fire,” Williams added.
Caterham, who have an adjacent garage to Williams, said four of their staff had been taken to the medical centre for examination – one with a minor hand injury and three with respiratory issues.
Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said one of his staff had suffered smoke inhalation.
The fire, with thick, acrid
black smoke billowing out of the garage and across the paddock, started about 90 minutes after the end of the race.
Maldonado was photographed carrying his 12-year-old cousin through the smoke, with the youngster clutching the winner’s trophy.
Photographs also showed Brazilian Bruno Senna’s car in the middle of a gutted and charred garage. Maldonado’s had been parked elsewhere under post-race parc ferme rules.
Team officials and guests were ushered to safety and the area cordoned off. A medical helicopter was seen to take off after a while.
The fire was the second in the Formula One paddock in five races this season, with one breaking out in the Lotus hospitality area at the Malaysian circuit in March. — Reuters