31 people injured when fire broke out at Williams F1 team’s victory party

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 14, 2012

A blaze broke out at the Williams Formula One team's garage while staff celebrated the breakthrough victory of Pastor Maldonado at the Spanish Grand Prix. Thirty-one people were in need of medical attention. The fire started an hour after the race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo yesterday, a police official disclosed.

There were seven individuals transferred to different local hospitals for treatment, Formula One's governing body Federation Internationale de l'Automobile revealed. The scenario ruined what is considered as the first race victory of Grove, England-based Williams since 2004, when Juan Pablo Montoya got the checkered flag at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Williams stated that the team, the police and the fire services are working to determine the cause of the incident. The blaze started in the storage area for fuel. Caterham and Force India teams' mechanics assisted Williams staff in putting out the flames, the FIA reported.

Press photographs revealed the burnt-out racing vehicle of Bruno Senna, who is Maldonado's teammate. Prior to the incident, Maldonado had held off Fernando Alonso of Ferrari to win by 3.2 seconds, making him the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race. Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen was in the third position, 0.7 seconds further back. Alonso was at par with Red Bull's defending international champion Sebastian Vettel on 61 points atop the standings after five of 20 races. 

Maldonado began in pole position, but lost it to Alonso on the first bend despite keeping within 2 seconds of the Spaniard. He recovered the lead during a round of pit stops after 25 laps. Alonso moved to within half a second of Maldonado with eight of the 66 laps left, but he did not start a concerted hit to pass him. For the first time in 29 years, there were five different drivers winning the first five races. Maldonado was rated a 500-1 outsider by William Hill Plc (WMH) prior to the qualifying session yesterday, the U.K. bookmaker revealed in a press release. Maldonado is in his second Formula One season and had never finished higher than the eighth rank before. [source: Bloomberg]

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