Seven in hospital after Spanish GP fire

Last Updated: Mon, May 14, 2012 04:55 hrs

Barcelona: Seven Formula One personnel were taken to hospital, and 31 tended to by circuit doctors, after a fire gutted the Williams garage while the team were celebrating winning Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

The former champions had earlier gathered outside the Circuit de Catalunya garage for a team photograph to mark Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado's first career victory and their first in nearly eight years.

Team founder and principal Frank Williams, who is in a wheelchair, had been in the Circuit de Catalunya garage when it went up in flames but was wheeled to safety, his daughter Claire told Reuters.

"We have four people in the medical centre at the moment receiving precautionary care and I believe one has been flown off to hospital but that has not been confirmed," she said.

Caterham, who have an adjacent garage to Williams, said in a statement that four of their staff had been taken to the circuit medical centre for examination - one with a minor hand injury and three with respiratory issues.

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said one of his staff had been taken to the medical centre and would remain under observation for an hour after suffering from smoke inhalation.

The fire, with thick, acrid black smoke billowing out of the garage and across the paddock, started about 90 minutes after the end of the race won by Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.

Team members had gathered for a photograph in the pit lane before the fire took hold.

Photographs showed Brazilian Bruno Senna's car in the middle of a gutted and charred garage. Maldonado's had been parked elsewhere under post-race parc ferme rules.

Emergency services arrived after mechanics from several teams had battled against the flames with extinguishers from the pit lane side.

Team officials and guests were ushered to safety and the area cordoned off. A medical helicopter was seen to take off later.

Maldonado's victory, from pole position, was the first of his career.

The fire was the second in the Formula One paddock in five races this season, with one breaking out in the Lotus hospitality area at the Malaysian circuit in March.

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