Williams denies garage fire caused by cigarette

Two days after winning in Spain, Williams is scrambling to put together the equipment it needs to contest next weekend’s Monaco grand prix, having lost a lot of equipment in a post-race garage fire.

Mere hours after Pastor Maldonado secured the once-great British team’s first victory since 2004, a huge fire broke out in the pits, leaving one team member still in a Barcelona hospital with burns.

“His family are in constant communication and he is in good spirits,” Williams said in a media statement.

The Oxfordshire based team is now making efforts to ensure it can race in Monte Carlo, having lost a lot of equipment in the fire. Mercifully, however, Bruno Senna’s car appears to have survived, with the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 saying an initial inspection of the chassis showed no devastating damage. Maldonado’s winning car was in parc ferme at the time of the incident.

“We had a lot of damage and lost a lot of equipment, including IT equipment,” chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said, according to the Daily Mail. “Over the next couple of days we will be looking at where we are parts-wise.

“We will have everything we need to run operationally at Monaco, but we may be missing a few of the extras because obviously we don’t carry a complete set of spares for everything,” he said.

It is believed more than one rival team has offered to help Williams by loaning the Sir Frank Williams-led outfit any equipment it needs. A McLaren spokesman confirmed the Woking based team has offered to help.

Germany’s Bild newspaper said Williams’ damage bill runs into the millions.

Team manager Dickie Stanford denied a rumour the fire was caused by a cigarette in the vicinity of Senna’s fuel tank while it was being emptied.

“We don’t know the cause, but we would never allow smoking in the pits,” he insisted.

Williams and F1’s governing FIA are investigating.


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