An electrical fault with a fuel rig is believed to be the cause of a fire that rapidly engulfed the Williams garage, sending team members, photographers and cameramen running for safety on Sunday at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
It took 20 minutes to bring the fire under control, after which nine people received treatment – four from Williams, a further four from Caterham, and one from Force India.
All were taken to the track’s medical centre, the majority for minor injuries or smoke inhalation. Three Williams team members were airlifted to a local hospital, one understood to be suffering from burns.
A full investigation has been launched into the cause of a fire that turned Williams’ Spanish Grand Prix victory celebrations sour.
Pastor Maldonado took the chequered flag to give Williams their first taste of success for 132 races, their last back in Brazil in 2004, and becoming the first Venezuelan to win in F1 history.
In the most unpredictable season for years, the first five races have been won by five different drivers and constructors for only the second time in the sport’s history.
For Maldonado, who prior to yesterday’s race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya had claimed just five points from his previous 23 races in F1, the champagne flowed in the immediate aftermath.
But just 90 minutes after the chequered flag dropped, as founder Sir Frank Williams gave a speech to every team member in the garage, a blaze quickly took hold.
Williams have confirmed it “originated from the fuel area”, and they, along with the fire services and police “are working together to determine the root cause”.
With photographers and cameramen also in attendance, a swift evacuation took place, with Maldonado turning hero to save his 12-year-old cousin Manuel.
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