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GP Week : Issue 153
While the Williams F1 team were taking their celebratory post-victory photos in the Barcelona paddock, the team’s garage caught fire. Thirty-one people were treated by circuit medical staff, while seven remain in local hospitals. The cause of the fire has yet to be confirmed, but it appears to have occurred at the back of the garage where the fuel was stored. The whole lot went up in just three seconds, according to eyewitnesses, with flames tearing across the ceiling of the garage as the Williams crew dived for cover. At the time of publishing, Williams have confirmed four of their staff received medical attention, but the team’s spokeswoman wouldn’t specify the injuries/issues. GPWEEK spoke to mechanics on the scene and we understand one crew member, responsible for the fuel rig, suffered severe burns to his legs and arms and was airlifted to hospital. Caterham, whose garage was located next door, confirmed four of their crew were harmed – one with a minor hand injury and three others with respiratory problems. Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer reported that one of his team’s mechanics had also been admitted to the circuit medical centre for smoke inhalation. By the time the circuit firefighters arrived, the blaze was out. Personnel the length of the pitlane, from Williams and their competitors, ran to the pit with their fire extinguishers to battle the fire. A Mercedes mechanic told GP WEEK the black smoke was so dense that he couldn’t see where he was spraying. Confirmation of the cause of the fire will not come until after the fire department have investigated the scene; the garage itself was gutted and its contents – including rafts of computers - damaged or destroyed. Members of the F1 circus who were nowhere near the Williams garage at the time have been complaining of irritated eyes and throats, minor complaints that only serve to indicate how pervasive toxic smoke can be. Early reports that Bruno Senna’s chassis was destroyed in the fire have yet to be confirmed and are thought to be exaggerated. Pastor Maldonado’s car was, fortunately, up at the other end of the pit-lane, under parc ferme rules. DISASTROUS FIRE SOURS BRILLIANT WILLIAMS WEEKEND Shocking end to a brilliant day ... Below: Pastor Maldonado piggy-backs his young cousin out of harm's way. Third from left: Williams' Mike Cougklan, covered in extinguisher foam. Video (above) courtesy Sky Sports/YouTube 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS