Serious fire in Williams pit after race

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

A serious fire broke out in the Williams pit after the Spanish Grand Prix.

It took hold shortly after 5pm local time as the team celebrated their victory in today’s race.

The fire was brought under control however the extent of injuries to team members remains unclear.

Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer told Sky one of their crew has been taken to the medical centre with smoke inhalation.

Thick clouds of smoke filled the area and the pit lane was evacuated after the fire.

Update at 17:24: Caterham have issued the following statement:

Caterham F1 Team was involved in a fire that started in the Williams F1 Team’s garage after the end of the Spanish Grand Prix.

All the team’s employees have been accounted for and four people have been taken to the circuit medical centre for examination; one with a minor hand injury and three with respiratory issues.

A further statement will be issued when more details about the incident are confirmed.

Update at 19:49: Williams have issued the following statement:

After today’s Spanish Grand Prix a fire occurred in the team’s garage which originated from the fuel area.

Four team personnel were injured in the incident and subsequently taken to the medical centre. Three are now receiving treatment at local hospitals for their injuries, while the fourth has been released. The team will monitor their condition and ensure they receive the best possible care.

The team, the fire services and the police are working together to determine the root cause of the fire and an update statement will be released in due course.

The Williams F1 Team would like to thank all of the teams and the FIA for their support in today’s incident.

Update at 21:08: The FIA confirms 31 people were taken to the medical centre following the incident:

The FIA can confirm that a fire broke out in the Williams garage after the conclusion of the Spanish Grand Prix. The flames were quickly brought under control through the combined intervention of staff from Williams, Caterham and Force India, supported by the circuit fire services.

Thirty-one team members were seen by Circuit Medical Centre staff and all have been released, with the exception of seven who were transferred to a variety of local hospitals where they are receiving treatment.

The FIA is collaborating closely with the Spanish authorities investigating this incident and will be providing a further update as soon as more information becomes available.

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Spanish Grand Prix articles

Image via Twitter

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

128 comments on “Serious fire in Williams pit after race”

  1. So horrible to see this after what was a great day.

    1. Jayfreese (@)
      13th May 2012, 16:59


      1. The moment when the fire broke out here!
        So good that it was put under control so fast.

        1. Elliot Horwood (@elliothorwoodf1)
          14th May 2012, 7:12

          and the BBC Red Button footage of when the fire broke out.

          1. NICE TO SEE FOM (FORMULA ONE MANAGEMENT) blocking all my youtube videos! even though it is SKY that own the footage. They even blocked some footage i took at silverstone at a grandstand once and got my account banned.
            I really hate FOM and there copyright rules!!?

          2. I really can ‘t understand this. I think these videos are the best way to bring new fans. Last year I favorited (among others) one video of the Vettel’s overtake in Monza to show later to my wife… finally, some days later I convinced my wife to watch it and the video was down…

        2. Rather disturbing to see so many mechanics attempt to fight the flames with no protective gear whatsoever.

          Unless they had reason to think that people were trapped inside, they should have got out of there.

          1. Nick.UK (@)
            14th May 2012, 12:05

            @jonathan189 A fair concern, but then what? The fire spreads and burns down the whole pit structure with many people above them? It that situation you do what needs doing, protective gear or not.

    2. Here’s Williams statement thanking everyone for their help in extinguishing the fire. Four of their team were injured, one is out of hospital, 3 are being treated/monitored in local hospitals.

      1. I hope the 3 in hospital make a quick recovery. The race finished late sunday night here in Aus. This was a complete shock to wake up and see what happened.

      1. Sorry, didnt realise you had updated your comment!

    1. shocking… glad to see all the teams helping.

    2. Sir Frank Williams is OK but not sure what happened

      1. Thank you for posting that :D

    3. The Actual moment the fire was caught in camera – Barcelona GP 2012

    4. xeroxpt (@)
      13th May 2012, 17:46

      Why??????? did i changed the channel to Man city…. anyways guess nothing could cool the williams especially Sennas car he was just attacking Schumachers past Sennas past is quite foggy aswell. Fortunately all people are safe you have to be really carefull with smoke inhalation.

      1. Thank God no one was seriously injured. Seeing the other teams; Caterham, Force India, HRT, Marussia helping the cause just demonstrates how unified the sport becomes for the sake of safety, really was impressed with the mechanics & other personel from the teams.

        1. Saw a couple of Toro Rosso folk helping out too when watching the BBC’s footage. AT the end of the day, they’re all human, helping each other out. Rivals in the pitlane, true sportsmen any other time of the year. Great too see.

        2. xeroxpt (@)
          13th May 2012, 22:57

          you know their garages are near each other so humanity aside that was an effort to contain any damages to any of the sides. Has anyone noticed the HRT guys running away while the italians from Toro Rosso were helping Williams.

          1. What about ferrari and mercedes who would have been fine to sit and wait for fire crews to arrive being several teams further down the pit it was an altruistic act by all the teams. If you can’t accept that then there is something seriously wrong with you, but then that was already evident by the implied racism of.

            “Has anyone noticed the HRT guys running away while the italians from Toro Rosso were helping Williams.”

            What did that knock you for six? Spanish guys running away from a fire whilst obviously in your opinion cowardly Italians run towards it. I see no other reason why you would think to mention the nationality of those involved as it has no bearing on how to fight a fire. It was a cheap shot and you should be ashamed using an accident like that to vent your national bias. I think most people would run away rather than towards a blaze and i think the bookies if they gave odds would have you running away as well.

          2. Yes, I saw a HRT guy run away, then reappear a few seconds later with a fire extinguisher and go into the garage and apparently there were Ferrari and Mclaren crew there too, but they were out of uniform. Everyone seemed to be trying to help!!!!!

  2. Shocking pictures. As someone said on the forum, glad it wasn’t at Monaco where the pits are too tight together…

    Hope everyone’s okay.

  3. Terrible disaster, Fantastic of so many teams to help out

  4. The BBC telecast of the fire:

    This will probably be taken off Youtube pretty soon…

  5. I hope nobody is hurt. Pictures look horrifying.

  6. This is horrible for the team! I really hope everyone is ok! O.o

  7. Terrible, strange the car looks almost untouched, as if it’s been put there after the fire went out.

    1. xeroxpt (@)
      13th May 2012, 23:00

      I noticed that aswell it just shows that the car was already disassembled when the fire started there aint no marks at the rear end so I guess Williams took precautions after the hit on the back nontheless something went south cause the as you said the rest of the garage looks pretty bad.

  8. That pic looks dreadful, I hope everyone is OK.

    I read that it was a KERS fire, was it?

  9. 5 live has said 4 Williams mechanics, 4 Caterham mechanics and 1 Force India mechanic taken to medical centre. No serious injuries. Statement from Williams shortly.

  10. Nick.UK (@)
    13th May 2012, 17:17

    Bit ironic… they were totally on fire in the race too!

    C’mon… banter! Nobody was hurt after all.

    1. Yes but there easily could have been, how would you have liked it if a family member of yours was around that garage, it is a bit of a disrespectful comment. :(

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        13th May 2012, 17:32

        Apolagies if this offended or annoyed anyone. It’s just a light hearted joke. I do wish people wouldn’t take things so seriously sometimes!

        1. I understand but this is NOT the sort of thing to be joking about, lives were at risk. I think people were lucky as it could have been a lot worse.

          1. Yup, but it wasn’t, everyone was ok, so no need to dwell on the could have beens. Glad everyone was ok. Williams were on fire I the race, although I should think Schumacher is a prime arson suspect, getting his revenge on the car that took him out.

          2. Disagree, a little comedy to lighten a serious situation never hurt anyone. I thought it was damn funny. And yes, lives were at risk, no one got seriously hurt, anything else is a woulda coulda shoulda, and this comes from someone who has been a firefighter

          3. I disagree. Some people may be offended, but I find a little dark humour comforting. In this case, too, noone was seriously hurt.

            I spoke to a fireman once. He told me that, after horrific fires where people died, there were often jokes about how they should have left them there to save on cremation costs. I also know a paramedic who told me they do similar. Everyone deals with such incidents in the best way they know how. For many this is through humour. Others take a different approach, and become offended by the humour.

            I am just glad everyone is OK. Things could have been a LOT worse.

      2. Give me a break.

    2. I’m afraid my Armed Forces background got the better of me over this comment…I laughed my {expletive deleted} off!

    3. xeroxpt (@)
      13th May 2012, 23:02

      Agreed with Nick uk, in the end nothing happened and in the future this experience maybe useful

    4. I wonder if Hamilton’s gonna get the blame for this one too :))

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        14th May 2012, 3:00

        @giuseppe I have already seen the far too common ‘Hamilton’s fault’ comment on multiple youtube videos, lol.

        1. People might be on to something, then :)

  11. Wow, they’re crazy….

  12. don’t be surprised if the FIA comes out with a fire safety code. We also saw a fire in the Lotus’ building in Malaysia @keithcollantine

    1. The Lotus fire was a fridge in the hospitality area or something. Nothing to do with the team’s garage at all. Two completely different issues.

    2. I am shocked to be honest at the fact there was no fire crews still at the circuit. This is a demonstration of poor safety by the FIA. There are numerous flammable gas and fuels exposed in pit lane and the FIA are obligated to provide a safe environment for participants and spectators alike.

  13. Maurice Hamilton: Unconfirmed #f1 summary: 4 Williams, 4 Caterham in medical centre 1 Force India removed to hopsital. Fire not started by Kers. Fuel ignited

  14. I thought it was pretty unprofessional of SkySports to name the fuel rig guy there cameraman pulled of the garage who apparentally had his legs on fire at the time…

    1. Yeah I thought that as well. Pretty poor imo, since his family may not have been informed yet and so to hear on the TV without decent conformation of his condition is bang out of order.

    2. And since when did we look up to the Murdock clan for decency. The recent trend is journalists ant to be treated as saints but showing no respect for peoples sensibilities. Afterall it is other peoples lives.

    3. How is it unprofessional? It’s live TV, chances are his family and friends will have been watching anyway and would have recognised him.

      Was it have been unprofessional to have named Fabrice Muamba as the player who collapsed and was effectively dead for 7 or so minutes during the match several weeks ago? No.

      Stop picking holes in Sky’s reporting, especially those who attack them because of the Murdoch’s (who arent they only perpetrators in BSkyB), it’s getting seriously lame now.

      1. Erm what?!

        This has nothing to do with Sky! I’m a fully paid up customer of there’s and have been for donkey’s years. It could have been the BBC and I’d still feel the same. It was “I think his name was….” guess on that silly bints report, not knowing what condition he was in apart from he was on fire. You really think the family got up to the minute reports so they knew before she did? Do me a favour. Oh and I watched it live to and I couldn’t tell anything about who got involved. No one could see anything, so of course they wouldn’t have known. What a stupid comment. Fabrice was plainly in clear view and no confusion and that is quite the most stupid comparison I’ve ever read.

      2. Well said, all those presenters today were truly shocked and shaken over what happened and showed genuine sympathy for all concerned, I’m sure his family would have preferred to learn straight away that he was injured rather than not knowing and thinking it may be worse. Well done Sky!

        1. Yeah well done for grabbing at straws reporting. ‘We think maybe your husband/farther may have caught on fire, I don’t know, I’m just guessing. Sorry to panic you, it may not be true, but hey, at least I look sad’

          For christ sake I’m not suggesting for one second they weren’t all very concerned and actually seemed to do a better job than the BBC (for once). But all they had was some bloke saying someone’s leg were on fire, didn’t know how badly or if his life was in danger and she thought his name was…..(I apologise, I didn’t catch his name).
          Sorry, but you don’t hear most other news reports of people being injured, killed or dieing (as he could have been) being blurted out live on national telly.

          1. pluk (@peteleeuk)
            14th May 2012, 2:11

            That is an absolutely unacceptable piece of reporting. You simply can not make speculative and sensationalist comments attached to a specific name in circumstances like this, it is not fair on anyone involved. Disgusting.

          2. Well you’ve got one thing right, apart from EJ, the BBC team showed a complete lack of emotion where the fire was concerned ‘Well it looks like it’s under control now’ when it clearly wasn’t, no thought of any injured until someone else mentioned it, brilliant Jake Humphreys, as I said Well done Sky!!

  15. i thought i seemed to take too long for the professional fire trucks to arrive plus police as well….almost 35 minutes as the crews already having put out the base fire…
    logic dictates that a professional fire tender be parked on site during such mass high octane mass spectator events…supposing the fire was in the grandstand areas..where there seems little equipment to put off the fire.??

    1. correction …. i thought it seemed .. to take too long…

    2. Noggin the Nog
      13th May 2012, 18:12

      It too way too long for the fire crews to get there. I would have thought it was mandatory to have professional fire crews at the ready at such a big event, it was one hell of an explosion that went off, which could have had serious consequences had it got established (even concrete burns at high temperatures).

    3. Yeah, I thought the same aswell. Though the smoke probably made things worse, as there were a lot of people in the pit lane walking around, they should’ve got there much much quicker!

      1. Yeah apparently they were delayed because they couldn’t get there because of the smoke…

        …I’m sorry, but a fire tender delayed because of smoke?????? That would be like the Lifeboat being delayed because of some water…

  16. Remarkable pic. At least we see from that, just how effectively well the carbon fibre chassis’ do their job in terms of fire-resistance.

    1. Good point, a positive from a negative here. Although hopefully we wont need to see this proven again.

  17. Hopefully nobody’s badly injured. On a less serious note, judging by that picture it looks like the team might have lost a chassis and possibly a gearbox and engine from their allocation. I’d imagine they’d discharge the KERS when they remove it so it was probably still attached to the car when it caught fire although it’s hard to tell the extent of the damage.

    1. That’s an interesting point. I suspect they might get a freebie by arguing “force majeur”

      1. Maybe, I’m nor sure what the rules are for that. Kind of makes McLaren’s claims of force majeur on Saturday look pretty weak though…

    2. Good thing Maldonado won or they would have lost 2!

  18. F1 needs to get rid of KERS until they can use it safely. So many incindents with KERS which could have ended deadly, come on. That’s really not worth it! Like the guy in the video says: 60KW sitting right next to fuel tank, are you kidding me?!?! What has to happen next until they realize that this technology is not safe enough as it stands!

    1. I believe the rumors that it was KERS related are incorrect.

    2. F1 needs to get rid of KERS until they can use it safely

      I think, as @mike says, the rumours are incorrect. But to keep on with your train of thought, appart from the troubles when testing the system in 2008 (Red Bull factory on fire and the BMW mechanic that electrocuted), I think this is the first major KERS-related accident if I remember correctly.

      So how come you say they need to get rid of it until they can use it safely? There were no problems in 2009, 2011 and so far this year until today. An F1 garage is always a dangerous place, so I don’t think what you’re saying is correct.

      1. @fer-no65 While they’re getting rid of KERS they should also scrap those cars that travel at over 300kph, dangerous things ;)

        1. @andrewtanner yeah, and those engines. It’s just unbelievable they are using petrol to run them! PETROL!!!

          1. @fer-no65 Make them drive on polystyrene circuits, fueled by fluffy kittens.

          2. @andrewtanner and plastic bubbles all over the car, just in case.

          3. @andrewtanner @fer-no65

            You guys just got quoted on my Facebook. :D

        2. @mike Oh cool :D

  19. Update on BBC2 right now

  20. I’ve never seen a more telling picture. Given Senna’s Q1 performance vs Pastor’s victory. Senna’s career may be up in smoke just like his car if he can’t find way soon. Well done today Williams.

  21. sagar atgamkar (@)
    13th May 2012, 18:14

    we should appriciate that these guys are able to fight fires as well. its a skill very much needed in this sport.

  22. That really sucks… Spoils the victory present for Frank Williams . Hope this doesn’t hurt the teams motivation or Bruno’s for Monaco.

  23. How the fire started is for later investigation and not hearsay. What amazes me the the demonstration of true team work and human spirit! Team colours meant nothing, skin colour meant nothing, nor did race or creed. EVERYONE played their part and did what was needed without thought for themselves. Today, they have done F1 and motorsport proud! I take my hat of to each and every person who played their part in helping. I hope they are all rewarded for their bravery!

    1. Agree 100% with this.
      It is probably the only positive we can take away from this horrific incident; the demonstration of true human values.

  24. What an absolutely surreal day. I really hope that noone is seriously hurt and that the material loss won’t be too big either.

  25. There’s a picture on the Telegraph website of Pastor Maldonado carrying his cousin out of the burning garage, it’s good to see this and in fact the whole F1 community joining forces in a time of need.

    1. Agreed – it is a really heartfelt picture.

      1. Maldonado, hero on and off the track

  26. Mario Balotelli joined the party :)
    Good thing everyone is ok.

  27. Alonso will do anything to win a race, won’t he!!? Just got the timing slightly wrong.

    Seriously though, glad everyone seems to be ok.

  28. See, this is what happens when you try to fit 70 candles on a birthday cake!!

  29. Shocked to hear the news about the fire in the Williams garage, had just finished watching the Grand Prix on BBC iplayer when I heard the news, what a horrible end to what has been a fantastic weekend for Williams, was impressed by the response from all the guys in the garage and also the other teams in helping to stop what could have clearly been a much worse fire which dire consequences for the whole of the sport.

  30. Thank God no one got killed in the fire. Celebrate with the winner & don’t let the
    fire come in it’s way

    Congratu\ations to the winner.
    Mary Nelan

  31. Williams was on fire this weekend I see.

  32. JP (@jonathanproc)
    13th May 2012, 21:59

    Seven people are in hospital due to this. There’s no need for comments like that.

    1. JP (@jonathanproc)
      13th May 2012, 22:00

      (this was in reply to “Postreader”)

    2. Agreed.

  33. I think Shumy started the fire with his mind. :) Crazy end of the day for Williams. I am glad no one got seriously injured.

  34. A horrible, horrible situation but one that really showed the camaraderie in F1. Found it incredible at how there were people from every team doing their best to help and make sure everyone was okay. Once hearing that there were no serious injuries, it brought a few smiles to my face to see that even though they’re rivals on the track, off track there is a great amount of concern and respect, and, after seeing Alonso and Raikkonen lift Maldonado onto their shoulders on the podium, the same can be said about the drivers.

  35. My best wishes to the old Williams excellent result! … with fireworks included. hehe

  36. How will the team manage with Monaco next with all the equipment that was damaged/destroyed? I don’t think they would have spare garage partitions etc?

    1. I think they will, with having to cater for fly aways @brownerboy

    2. Data will be backed up and equipment will either have spares (what if they got stolen or damaged in some other way?) or be able to be replaced in the space of 2 weeks.

      1. The other teams are reportedly loaning Williams whatever they need for the next race in Monaco.

        Senna’s car might be a different story.

        1. They won’t have a problem replacing the car itself. They have to have the spares to build a new one from scratch in case of a major crash damaging the race car beyond repair.

  37. I saw this unfold on Sky. Scary stuff. Sky did a great job of helping out and keeping us up to date. Kudos to them.

    An unfortunate incident but it seems that no one was seriously hurt.

    I’ll be curious to read the police report on this one.

  38. I think HRT and Marussia were in there helping too, think they deserve a mention, not to mention the Sky cameraman who helped someone out.

  39. This could have been so much worst, I wish everybody well. I was in this pitlane last year during the Thursday Pit Walk, I can stop imaging the panic this would have caused, even though the spanish have this well organised but some other circuits allow thousands of fans crammed into to pitlane. You can see FIA tightening things up regarding access to the pitlane

  40. Glad everyones ok. Please investigate hamilton. i think this too may have been his fault. Thanks

  41. DC. Pink shirt, white trousers. Is this the 80’s?

    More seriously. Finally Williams get a break and this happens.

  42. This year the world is too tight, I like that there is equality between teams announcing a fun year, good for williams.

  43. You know, I’ve seen a lot of people stating that no one was seriously hurt in this fire, and I’m just wondering where they got that information. The last I read, there were three Williams team members (plus, judging from the FIA statement, possibly four other people) still hospitalized, and I haven’t been able to find anything further on their condition. Can anyone provide a link to something more recent?

  44. Sad that what have should have been a huge celebratory evening for Sir Frank and the resurgent Team Williams had this nasty damper put on it. Mostly sad for those injured, of course. Crazy.

  45. Bruno Sennas career ended up in flames.
    And is this the aftermath of the same guy that didn’t put in enough fuel in L.Hamiltons car?

  46. pluk (@peteleeuk)
    14th May 2012, 2:25

    Obviously all else comes after the condition of all those involved, hope everyone recovers.

    But other than that, how could this affect the team? Are they fully insured? The cost of the kit they carry around, alongside the perceived risk of something like this happening what with all the flammables etc, I wouldn’t be surprised if insurance was prohibitively expensive and the teams put money aside just in case instead. Does anyone know? If it is a cost they have to cover themselves then could they? It’s no secret they’ve been struggling financially.
    How about the actual kit, do they hold spares of everything just in case? Could this conceivably put them out of action for a few rounds? That in itself could cost them in sponsorship.

    I was so pleased for Williams after the race, it’s such a shame for them. I hope it does not cause any lasting problems for any of those injured or the team as a whole.

  47. I have yet to see a video with significant professional firefighting presence at this event.

    Even Indycar has a dedicated team:

    1. marc512 (@)
      14th May 2012, 11:12

      All F1 personnel are given basic medical and fire fighting training. Or maybe a bit more than basic. They did well to stop the fire from spreading to other parts of the paddock. They need to be trained this way. If that fire was left till the professionals got there, it would of probably engulfed the whole paddock.

      If a fire breaks out on the track, that is a different story. Some tracks have dedicated fire teams spread out at different points in the track. If a fire breaks out on track, the nearest one will rush off. If you look at some races, you do see fire engines sitting there waiting.

    2. To me it’s unforgivable that there wasn’t a professional fire tender there within a couple of minutes.

      They should have one at both ends of the pit-lane both in the pit-lane itself and the paddock (why both ends? In case access from one end is blocked) and they should be on standby until the event is completely cleared away.

      That and every garage should have an built in fire suppression system – I don’t know what substance they’d use, but then that why I’m not a designer for a fire suppression system company…

      I volunteer as ambulance crew at major events (waiting to hear on the British GP this year – fingers and toes all crossed) and we are required for set-up and take-down as well as the whole event.

      Thank god noone was killed and I hope those hospitalised are okay – smoke inhalation is more of a killer than burns.

  48. Great to see everyone lending a hand as fast ass possible, shows we are still human after all. Such a shame this happens on such a happy day for the Williams boys. I’ve heard the teams are loaning williams gear for the next GP? Does anyone know if its true or not?

  49. Given that the fire seems to have started around the rear of Senna’s car, I wonder if damage from getting rear-ended by Schumacher could have contributed to starting the fire? Even if the fuel tank wasn’t directly ruptured in the impact (the car has passed crash tests after all, and the fuel cells are exceptionally strong against this happening), it is possible that an ignition source, such as shorting wires, was created or exposed by the crash.

    Whatever the cause, I hope Williams are able to establish the cause of the fire, so that measures can be put in place to prevent a similar incident happening in future, whether in the Williams garage or anywhere down the pitlane.

  50. I agree – it took an age for any professional fire assistance to arrive – surely there should be a fire tender and crew in the pit lane until all fire risks are removed.

  51. I can’t believe that there were spectators taking videos of inside the garage and getting in the way of the pit crews trying to put it out and after Simon Lazenby informed Pastor Maldonado (who was looking worried) that his fiancee had gone a certain way, a spectator grabbed him and asked him for a picture ….Unbelievable!

  52. Too many candles on franks birthday cake?

    1. sorry, meant to tag you @keithcollantine

Comments are closed.