Posted on May 13, 2012
Williams garage

[Updated] The FIA is likely to discuss with teams a review into the storage of fuel and the high voltage KERS systems as well as other potentially hazardous materials after a fire broke out in the Williams garage, an hour after the Spanish Grand Prix finished.

The Williams team was celebrating its first win since 2004, with Sir Frank Williams in the garage and team members as well as media present having just done a celebratory photograph.

The garage was quickly evacuated, but the fire took hold quickly and the garage was gutted. Thick plumes of acrid smoke poured out from the garage

Williams media staff confirmed that no-one had been seriously hurt; four Williams staff members were being treated. It’s believed one is for burns and the rest for smoke inhalation. Meanwhile four staff from the next door Caterham team also received attention, as did one Force India staff member, but were unhurt. The nine were among a total of 31 people who were seen by medical services, according to the FIA, which said that seven people had been taken to hospital.

There is no precise word yet as to what caused the fire, but it appears it occurred while the team was emptying the fuel bowser in the back of the garage. There had been suggestions from other team sources that KERS could have been involved but nothing has been confirmed. Williams and the local emergency services are working together to establish the cause.

Senior figures from two teams said that a fresh look at safety procedures would likely follow this incident.

McLaren’s Jonathan Neale said that existing F1 team health and safety procedures involve a full report being filed on the garage set up at every Grand Prix and a list of how hazardous materials are stored. There is a comprehensive book on how to store fuel, for example, and an incident of this kind hasn’t been seen in Formula 1.

But safety is taken very seriously by teams and the FIA and both sides are likely sit to down via the mechanism of the Sporting Working Group, which oversees operational activities, to review safety measures.

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KERS and fuel storage could face review after fire in Williams garage
110 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Dizzy
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 6:41 pm 

    Recall reading somewhere before that most the mechanics in the teams hate having to work with KERS & that most see it as an unnecisary added expence.

    [Reply]

    F1 Novice Reply:

    Especially as a simple push to pass button (rev increaser) would achieve the same result …. oh yeah but would pee off the “tree hugger” brigade well KERS isn’t that green the batteries especially.

    [Reply]

    F1 Novice Reply:

    Anyhow thinking about it when the turbos comeback the boost buttons will achieve the same results with less dnager involved for the mechanics :)

    [Reply]

    Craig Reply:

    F1 should be about developing technologies, not necessarily greener or faster, but more efficient and safer. Accidents will always happen when new ideas are developed, that’s how humans learn.

    [Reply]

    Tyler Reply:

    Unfortunately I dont see that the mechanics desires will change KERS anytime soon. Who would like working around lethal voltage? As a maintenance mechanic (aircraft, auto, buildings) most of my life I can without pause say that while it is one of the (if not the most) vital positions in any operation, it is also a thankless and overworked field and generally has little say in the whys and hows of operations. Im out of my experience in saying this but from watching the sport for 20 years it doesnt seem F1 doesnt seem to be much different in this regard.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Paul H
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 6:42 pm 

    Best wishes to all injured parties.

    Surely you’re not telling me that at present KERS is stored next to fuel? A child would realise that was a recipe for a lot of paperwork at best.

    [Reply]

    Craig Reply:

    I don’t presume to know either, but doesn’t the KERS system usually charge on the car when it is on track? This is one of the reasons they brake the cars hard during warm up lap – to charge it for the launch – Question is, once Bruno’s car was returned to the garage after it’s accident, was the KERS system discharged? And if not, was this the X-factor in the circumstances of the fire breaking out? Surely, that’s an easy improvement to the SOP to prevent future occurances.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Ed H
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 6:45 pm 

    Looking at that photo makes me realise how lucky we are…Situation could have been far worse had someone been in the immediate vicinity, a mechanic working away on the underside of the car for example.

    TV pictures were, to be honest, horrifying and I wasn’t surprised that presenters seemed to be at a loss for words. It’s up to the FIA to take maximum precautions to ensure that a similar accident does not happen in the future. It’s good to say it is being taken seriously, and rightly so.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Bill Nuttall
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 6:49 pm 

    Brilliant drive by Maldonado, I honestly didn’t think he had it in him. Being relentlessly pursued by the one driver in F1 who never knows when to give up must be pretty scary, and many others would have cracked under the pressure. Such a shame Williams’ day was ruined by that fire. But all in all that drive must make Pastor the highest-ranked pay driver of all time – unless anyone here knows of one more successful?

    Big respect to Lewis for being the only driver to make a 2-stop strategy work without destroying his tyres, and even beating his team-mate. Runner up for driver of the day in my view.

    Looking at that photo of the remains of Bruno Senna’s car, I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere, but perhaps today is not the day to make it!

    [Reply]

    James Clayton Reply:

    Maybe never is the day to make it?

    [Reply]

    Tim S Reply:

    Georges Philippe aka Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Even more successful as a winemaker (e.g. Opus One) than a racing driver, but had at least one grand prix victory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Philippe

    [Reply]

    Blackacre Reply:

    Can we abandon the pay driver thing? Surely he has shown he deserves to be here now?

    [Reply]

    Bill Nuttall Reply:

    Yes, I would definitely no longer call him a pay driver, he has well and truly earned his place on the grid now. This doesn’t change the fact that he originally he came into F1 as a pay driver.

    Re: Euan’s comment below – if Niki Lauda did indeed buy his way into the sport, then I think he will take some beating!

    [Reply]

    Shane Pinnell Reply:

    Almost every driver has to “buy” their way into this sport in some manner. All this “pay driver” talk is mostly nonsense. I mean, Schumacher was a “pay” driver. His debut for Jordan was “paid” for with £150,000 from Peter Sauber!

    James Allen Reply:

    From Mercedes

    Wade Parmino Reply:

    Speaking of pay drivers, Karthekeyan has to be the worst of them all. There must be a monumentally huge amount of Indian money backing him for him to still have a drive in F1. HRT would be better off with Alguasuari.

    [Reply]

    Euan Taylor Reply:

    “Highest ranked pay driver of all time”? eh Niki Lauda would like a word.

    [Reply]

    AH Jordan Reply:

    As would Fernando Alonso…

    [Reply]

    Bluefroggle Reply:

    Can you explain the reference to Niki Lauda please? Did Niki buy his way into F1 30 years ago?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Yes, he took a bank loan!


  5.   5. Posted By: CarlH
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 6:56 pm 

    Hi James,

    Obviously it’s a bit early to say, but if it is KERS related do you think the use of KERS could be temporarily banned for Monaco until safety can be ensured?

    P.S. Hope everybody is ok, there were some very brave people diving in to try and stop that fire.

    [Reply]

    Flash Bristow Reply:

    Hi, (I realise I’m not James, but anyway…)

    How would you suggest KERS is banned? It is integral to the car. If it was disconnected so as not to be able to charge, everyone would need to adjust their brake bias, which could throw a spanner in the works.

    Also, some reports say KERS was not involved (though it was a fuel fire). Too early to say, I guess – but we do need to ensure lessons are learnt in due course.

    Maldonado was a hero lifting his young cousin to safety!

    [Reply]

    Wade Parmino Reply:

    I am certainly not aware of all the intricacies of the system but, surely the KERS can be safely discharged to ground in a controlled manner before anything to do with fuel disposal is considered.

    [Reply]

    CarlH Reply:

    It could simply be disconnected and the brake bias adjusted, just as the teams have to when it fails. Red Bull managed to run Webber on a few occasions last year even though his KERS failed in quali and he didn’t have it available during tthe race.

    But it looks as though the fire was caused by a fuel rig now anyway so we have no need to worry about it.

    [Reply]

    Kay Reply:

    You’re suggesting a ban of something without it being proven.

    [Reply]

    CarlH Reply:

    I’m not suggesting a ban, I was asking if it was a possibility.

    I also said ‘if it is KERS related’. I know it hasn’t been proven.

    [Reply]

    AH Jordan Reply:

    He’s saying if it is proven to be KERS related…

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Christopher Woods
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:01 pm 

    I’ll be interested to see if the team can quickly identify the root cause of this blaze. It took hold remarkably quickly from TV footage but the combined efforts of the pit crews seemed enough to douse the flames within a few minutes (with just the billowing smoke remaining)… If it was a fuel bowser which caught fire I would expect it to catch fire and remain alight until a serious amount of foam was used.

    Given all the reports of the acrid smoke, my first thought was that it was an electrical fire. Having started a few (small!) electrical fires whilst studying electronics at university, the back of my mouth can still taste the acrid smell of burning silicon and electrical components.

    If the 2012 KERS tech still employs scaled up versions of the lithium ion cells found in portable computing devices, we already know that when those combust they erupt almost instantaneously. Due to the internal chain reaction as each cell catches, they’re almost impossible to extinguish as they burn (albeit fairly briefly) at over 1000 degrees celcius. A battery pack capable of storing 60kW of DC electrical energy would produce a formidable fireball, not including all the nearby plastic materials.

    For reference, this is what a small multicell LIB fire looks like: http://youtu.be/jjAtBiTSsKY?t=2m3s (also see what happens to an adjacent damaged cell at 4mins)… Seems that happily the pit crews already had the appropriate class of fire extinguisher (for electrical fires) readily available.

    If the KERS units need an initial charging from a machine in the garage, a logical assumption would be that it is essentially a large battery pack with an invertor and large capacitors inside to store up charge from the mains AC coming into the building before delivering it on as DC to the in-car KERS batteries. If something was wrong with a battery inside a charging unit — which would need a comparable capacity to the in-car batteries — this could result in exactly the kind of scenario we witnessed.

    [Reply]

    Brian Evans Reply:

    It seems to me that KERS was a factor: Bruno Senna’s car was still in the garage, after being attacked by Michael Schumacher, and some reports mentioned a lot of static electricity being evident in the garage, so, I suspect that the damage caused to the car extended to the KERS, which discharged t the time the fuel rigs were being emptied ?

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Christopher Woods
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:06 pm 

    However, I can only speculate; I just noticed Steve Slater tweet:

    “Final round-up from tonight’s dramas. Seems fire started due to a spark while emptying car fuel tank for transportation.”

    I wonder if the garage CCTV can provide some clues as to blaze origin – of course, that’s if it was operational and the footage was being streamed back to Grove.

    [Reply]

    Dave Aston Reply:

    From what I saw on the coverage, having Maldonado’s girlfriend near anything flammable is asking for trouble.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Kevin
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:23 pm 

    Omg that’s really sad. I hope no-one was seriously hurt. I’ll have a guess someone, distracted by the celebrations didn’t check, nor double check the kit they were responsible for. I really hope it dosnt dent Williams spirits because the have some real momentum to take to Monaco..

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: madmax
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:29 pm 

    Like Ecclestone says “all the public knows about KERS is it doesn’t work sometimes”

    Now we know it starts fires.

    Long overdue time to dump this expensive waste.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Michael Grievson
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:31 pm 

    A freak accident but luckily noone was seriously hurt. Could have been something damaged on Senna’s car from his accident? A damaged slow leaking fuel cell perhaps?

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: db4tim
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:36 pm 

    That could have been so bad if it went form garage to garage, thank god no one seriously hurt.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: mark murphy
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:47 pm 

    Just 2 things say. First well done to all the mechanics who displayed selfless bravery in the most bizarre pit lane incident o have ever seen. Second all those injured have a speedy recovery

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Ivan
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 7:50 pm 

    Surely the teams must be insured against this sort of thing. That looks like millions worth of damage
    Any idea James?

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: CurlyPutz
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:12 pm 

    I am so glad no one was seriously hurt, fair play to the hero’s from williams, fi and cateram who were involved in getting the fire out before the track side fire service arrived too, their quick actions may well have saved lifes today imo.

    So pleased to see williams back on the top step aafter so many years!

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Richard D
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:27 pm 

    I’m surprised that it is not already standard practice to discharge KERS on the in lap at the end of the race!

    [Reply]

    Nic Reply:

    Remember that Senna’s car was totalled by Schumacher and he stopped out on track.

    [Reply]

    mark murphy Reply:

    rSennas car is in the right hand side of the garage. The fire started in the back left hand side.(looking from the pit lane). So I cannot see it being the car more like one of the behind the scenes operations was at fault.!

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Philippe Lasry
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:37 pm 

    Talk about bitter-sweet

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Andy
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:40 pm 

    Williams and the other teams assisting should be congratulated on putting out the fire. A sad end to what was a remarkable and justifiable victory to a team that punched well above it’s weight.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Rob Cunningham
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:56 pm 

    What a sad end to such a great race for Williams. F1 prides itself for remarkable safety, but surely not right to see pit crews tackling a very serious fire with inadequate extinguishers, in shorts and tee shirts and no breathing apparatus.
    The pit lane must be the most hazardous area on a race track (with fuel supplies etc) – why weren’t professional fire crews in immediate attendance. An urgent review of risk and safety must be undertaken as an utmost priority to keep our wonderful sport safe for all.
    Hope all the team members are safe and welland fighting fit for Monaco.

    [Reply]

    Daniel Reply:

    Exactly, with such amount of thick black smoke the pit crew were very brave, but such a fire needs a real firefighter.

    [Reply]

    Landon Reply:

    Heikki was around the pitlane, but he could not run there fast enough :)

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Carl
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 8:57 pm 

    James, is kers not “discharged” at the end of each race or if a car retires back to the pits? It would seem the safest thing after what’s happened…..(assuming it was a kers incident)

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Sounds like not a KERS incident, but a problem while emptying fuel bowsers.

    [Reply]

    carl Reply:

    You have to ask why the hell are fuel bowsers being emptied while there are so many people in the garage celebrating, surley this should be done with no one else about in a secure area. Me thinks a review of in garage hospitality will be undertaken with a ban on all but esential staff in the garage prior and post race. Motor homes are big enough!!
    I shudder when I think what could have happened if the other crews hadnt been so brave!!

    [Reply]

    Dipswitch Reply:

    Speculation, but I suspect this may result from something not being properly earthed when fuel was being transferred and a static discharge ignited the fuel vapour. You can see examples of this on youtube on garage forcourts involving not only tankers that were not properly earthed, but customer vehicles catching fire when being filled.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: d.h.
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 9:06 pm 

    It was shocking to watch, and I can’t even begin to think about actually being there.
    Best wishes to all those recovering and a big thank you to the brave mechanics who extinguished the fire.

    Things to take from this, the Fire services seem to take an age to arrive on scene. As a major sporting event, with dangerous items all being stored in one main area, they took far too long to arrive.

    Also how many garages in the current schedule have automatic fire fighting systems? Be it co2, powder or similar.

    [Reply]

    Brisbane Bill Reply:

    I would think that no automatic systems are in place. CO2, powder and foam would be hazardous to the health of anyone in the garage at the time it is triggered. Water would be also hazardous given that the two main likely fire types will be petrol and electrical. So the appropriate fire extinguishers that give a controlled and direction release would be the better option anyway.

    [Reply]

    AH Jordan Reply:

    Actually I’ve read that some of the more modern circuits do have fire suppression systems in the garages that release huge amounts of water (or possibly another suitable substance) in such volumes as so put out any kind of fire.

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    I’d like to see that report if you have the link, because dumping any volume of water (large or not), will just spread fuel fires, and electrocute people standing nearby in the case of electrical fires.

    Water is probably the worst fire suppressant you can use, on anything but a house fire, with the mains electricity cut.

    Large volumes of CO2 will suffocate people in the area, and will generally be innefective in open areas (like a garage with the doors open). Halon systems (also a suffocation hazard) have been phased out due to government ozone gas depleting targets.

    Foam is good for most fires, but metals and plastics can still burn. Electrical fires can be a problem, if the source of the fire is a live mains line (battery fires will eventually die, but mains fires need the feed to be killed, and don’t even think about using water again)..

    In pit garages, there are far too many types of fire possible to use automatic supression systems.

    The pit crews have to be trained, and able, to use the correct suppression, before the track firecrews arrive, as only the crew in the immediate area, know what type of fire it is.

    If in doubt, go for foam.. it’ll buy you a few seconds while you sort your head out.

    Dipswitch Reply:

    Portable extinguishers would have been pretty useless with a fire of that size and distance away from the door. The gents using them were being pretty brave but probably not acheiving a lot. The C02 (if thats what it was) was being swept back out of the garage and over their heads by the outrush of hot fumes from the fire. I think it was probably the water hoses being used from the back of the garage that cooled things down and brought it under control – or maybe all the fuel just burnt out??. As soemeone else said, if there was a lot of leaking fuel around, water could make things worse as the burning fuel on top of it would just spread further as water was added. A foam cart connected into the fire hose lines we use those on hydrocarbon fires offshore) would have been the best bet, but I couldn’t see any sign of those being available or being put to use.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Rob Cunningham
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 9:37 pm 

    Totally agree with d.h. comments,
    The mechanics from all teams worked together as one team – well beyond their job descriptions and they averted a major tragedy.
    The scenes televised could be a major PR disaster for Bernie and F1

    [Reply]

    William Reply:

    More than likely will be spun into a serious PR win for F1 in general, play up how everyone came together in the face of adversity. Depends how the media decide to go at it.

    [Reply]

    Dan Reply:

    If that was happened, then why not? Would be a nice change compared to the usual F1 politics of adversity between the teams, the FIA and Bernie…

    [Reply]

    William Reply:

    Internal media will report it as a good thing, external media who want a headline story will possibly write it from the perspective of how dangerous it was. The red tops need a story that will sell, and unfortunately massively blown out of proportion stories do sell papers. Expect to see a gaudy headline, and then something about how the teams pulled together at the very bottom of the article.

    mark murphy Reply:

    That was sky’s spin on it. Didn’t even see it mentioned in the highlights show on bbc

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Ian R
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm 

    The guys from other teams that dived in to put the fire out want to be named and commendations given to them, as I would have thought these acts of bravery probably saved lives today. Hope all the injured people recover from their injuries soon. The guys on the F1 forum where speechless when it happened.

    On a side note great race today well done to Pastor on his win.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Mario
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 10:25 pm 

    On fire on the track and off the track! what a weekend for Williams f1.

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Ian McLeish
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 11:01 pm 

    Most commentators and interviewees seemed to suggest that it was a kers issue caused the fire.Is the Williams kers, like their hybrid power not based on a spinning mass rather than a charged battery and motor?

    [Reply]

    craig Reply:

    No its battery based, they couldn’t get their flywheel technology packaged in 2011/2012 for the cars.

    I guess with the race over the fire brigade, like everyone else were packing up and the route back to the garages was more crowded than it would have been during the race?

    The guys from all the teams at that end of the grid did a superb job together fighting the fire from both sides of the garage as seen on Sky and BBC respectively.

    I did laugh at people showing pictures of Senna’s car ‘destroyed’ though after, it looked pretty intact really and only analysis of the parts would really tell what heat and damage they’d been exposed to. I guess some people thought the tyres and nose has been burnt off it and not just removed.

    A pity it happened to Williams after such an amazing weekend.

    [Reply]

    AH Jordan Reply:

    The fire brigade shouldn’t have been packing away. Set-up and take-down are sometimes more dangerous than the event itself.

    I volunteer as ambulance crew with St John Ambulance and often-times we’re required to be almost the first there and last to leave so that we cover the crews setting up and taking down the event.

    I have to add my praise on the team personnel who pulled together to fight this and question why there wasn’t an almost immediate response from professional fire tenders??

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Tom in adelaide
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 11:04 pm 

    Transferring fuel can be very dangerous. If you are ever filling a can etc at a petrol station, always make sure it is placed on solid ground and not held up in the air.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Don Farrell
        Date: May 13th, 2012 @ 11:06 pm 

    KERS is risky in wet weather and in a accident, If the fire is found to be KERS related – the question should be asked is KERS too unstable to have in F1?

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    If I am not mistaken, since the first introduction of KERS, did the cars not have to have flashing hazard LED’s built into the chasis to indicate a KERS fault, for the benefit of the marshals, that might end up touching a live piece of car while moving accidents?

    If that’s still the case, then I can’t imagine someone draining fuel, or even touching the car, if such a system was still required..

    I’d probably discount the KERS cause for the minute, and trace it back from the accelerant. Sparks can come from a lot of places, and decanting fuel in enclosed spaces, can cause a fuel/air mixture that’s lethal if ANY electrical system sparks; i.e. generators, materials that can induce and store static, mobile phones, cameras, steel toecaps etc etc..

    There was probably a lot of the above in the garage with the TV crews hanging about.

    Leason for next race – pit garages, after race, are out of bounds for all non-essential crew.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: William
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 12:22 am 

    This seems to be exactly what it is; a freak accident. This isn’t a weekly occurrence in F1, and in all fairness, is a potential hazard when you are mixing potent race fuels and electricity (or for that matter, whatever was the cause of the fire.)

    Was their a minor explosion or just a fire ? And was the smoke caused by the fuel or other elements catching fire. All in all, it was great to see the vast majority of people rushing into help, and more importantly, nobody being seriously injured. Reports of teams offering Williams supplies for Monaco goes to show the level of respect ‘enemies’ can have for one another.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Denis
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 12:48 am 

    Don’t Williams use a flywheel KERS system?
    That wouldn’t have any battery packs so a spark while moving fuel would make more sense.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    No, they never raced that. It’s battery based.

    [Reply]

    Denis Reply:

    Interesting I didn’t know that.
    I thought with their flywheel KERS being so well known it was used on the F1 cars too.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Test is good
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 12:48 am 

    I cannot put a message with my usual name, can you check that please?

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Brisbane Bill Reply:

    Yes, a few of us have suffered that problem. The only solution has been to use a different email address. The user name doesn’t seem to be the issue.

    [Reply]

    Test is good Reply:

    But I can now post with the same email address, so the problem is the user name?

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Hendo
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 1:21 am 

    Haven’t seen vision on this yet, but is there any damage to the race-cars?

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Ben
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 1:23 am 

    The best reaction to this would be to avoid an overreaction. Regardless of steps taken to avoid such accidents, accidents, by their very nature, will happen. It says a lot about F1 safety standards that this is event is unprecedented.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: House
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 1:30 am 

    Hi.
    Now I’m no fireman, although I only got turned down for lack of 20/20 vision, I couldn’t help but notice on the bbc’s coverage it showed the back of the garage at the time of the fire.

    It showed the teams spraying the fire with hoses that to
    Me appeared to b water.

    My point being, doesn’t water spread a fuel fire thus making the situation worse?

    [Reply]

    House Reply:

    James, also,

    Will Williams be penalised if the have to change a gearbox due to fire damage or if the engine is somehow damaged be adjudged to have used one of their allocated engines?

    [Reply]

    James Clayton Reply:

    umm that’s only true of an electrical fire; or perhaps one where there is some liquid fat boiling away

    [Reply]

    Craig in Manila Reply:

    Noticed the same thing and, yep, looked like water to me too. Made me cringe.

    [Reply]

    aj Reply:

    was wondering why they were spraying both extinguisher (presumably co2) and hosing it down with something from a pipe.. which can only be water. at the same time.

    that said.. the pipes did pop in later in that film

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    Just because it’s from a pipe doesn’t make it water, and also just because it’s from a handheld, doesn’t make it CO2..

    Being pit garages, the pipe, may well be foam, or a foam/oxy reducing mixute, as the most likely accelerant in a garage will be fuel. Having water on tap, in a garage, for fire extuinguishing, would be mental.

    I still haven’t seen the video, but anyone picking up anything other than a foam extinguisher, in a pit fire would need their head examined.

    [Reply]

    aj Reply:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/18066927

    (or more pages in bbc..)

    i honestly can’t tell what’s in the pipe. some sort of liquid anyway.

    but the guy spraying the extinguisher about a minute in is spraying what looks like gas (hence.. co2). purely from the way the stuff spreads upon ejection.

    then again, i haven’t seen a foam extinguisher (or any extinguisher) in action for years.

    main reason co2 is mentioned is because of kers/electric fire was mentioned. which of course.. we simply don’t know for certain yet.


  33.   33. Posted By: Rhi
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 1:45 am 

    I asked this on Twitter of a few people but got no reply. Earlier in conversation with friends the question arose of whether or not the team will still have to take any grid drops for replacing Senna’s engine and gearbox which one assumes were damaged in the fire.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Force Majeur surely?

    [Reply]

    Rhi Reply:

    That’s what I hope/expect but I figured you’d have the expert knowledge to confirm that.

    [Reply]

    TMorel Reply:

    Don’t let McLaren know that a fire qualifies as force majeur, else they’ll be installing incendiary devices into Lewis’s car next time they run low on fuel.

    As to the whole incident, I switched over TV channels from watching the Joey Barton incident to see the way members from all teams ran to the aid of the Williams garage. Two extremes of humanity, from disgusting violence to bravery and camaraderie in one click of the remote.

    [Reply]

    House Reply:

    Ha! Indeed!

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Craig in Manila
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 4:36 am 

    Crazy stuff which really could’ve ended a lot worse than it did.
    No doubt the stewards will want to look at it re considering a fine/penalty for unsafe handling of fuel ?

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: prasanna madhavan
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 8:14 am 

    This incident show’s us once again F1 teams fight each other only on race track, when they are in crisis they come together and fight it out as a family. People from Force India, Caterham team, ferrari, Mcl, mercedes etc, all came together to put the fire off. great work people

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Alex
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 8:23 am 

    What a weekend for Williams. I’m so relieved that all the reports, so far, infucate that there’s no serious injury. I’m so impressed with Sir Frank; he’s so unflappable in the face of triumph and then disaster.

    I would question the need to have so many non essential people in the garage at anytime. Surely that’s why teams have expensive hospitality units that they drag all over Europe?

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: seifenkistler
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 10:08 am 

    Being a volunteer firefighter i hope the fire wasn’t self caused. Forget to ground before emptying fuel, or forgot to disload KERS. Doubt insurance would pay in such cases.

    And i really hope it isn’t a design failure in KERS. Probably flights with KERS would have to be reconsidered. Imagine this would have been KERS caused and it would have been a oversea race and the fire starting in the plane …

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: AH Jordan
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 11:46 am 

    James, I feel you’ll be well placed to answer this:

    What is the professional fire crew presence like at an F1 circuit?

    I was surprised not to see a full blown fire tender (or more than one even) responding in any of the televised footage I’ve seen.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Jon Wilde
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 12:22 pm 

    Simply an observation, not an acquisition. Smoking is permitted in the paddock area from behind the pit garages onwards. Is this something that should be considered in a review of Paddock health and safety?

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Ian Hinton
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm 

    Whether or not that kers or fuel storage is an issue what I would like to know is that why with the best medical and rescue facilities in motor sport did it seem from the coverage and reports that I saw, take so long to fight a potentially life threatening fire take so long to fight.
    When the fire truck arrived it contained fire extinguishers and no breathing rescue equipment.

    Regards Ian Hinton from Worcester UK

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: David
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 1:02 pm 

    Has any comment been made about the lack of response from the Track Fire Fighters.
    The teams seemed to be left to their own means to battle he fire and had no proper equipment, breathing apparatus etc.

    [Reply]

    leigh Reply:

    if it happened in britain our fire team would of been ready for that i thing the FIA should not got to spain again until they have look at why the fire service and also the polices took so long to get to the fire if it was not for the rest of the teams to help the willams it may of been more garges on fire

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: mark powell
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 5:53 pm 

    I thought when the turbo era returns, the fia said kers will double to 160 k/joules of power. If it is true then this will throw a different light on saftey.It does seem that this is the direction the f1 teams want to go, the current technology in f1 is the future technology for road cars, like it used to be….In recent times f1 seem to have lost its way, but now its back with a vengence….

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    No one has said KERS caused this fire yet, stop jumping the gun.

    KERS is a suspect, yes, but so is anything that can cuase a spark, near fuel storage (whith air mixture esp), when there’s a party + TV crews hanging around the garage…

    If the car had a KERS fault, it would probably have been noticed and discharged before anyone got close enough to touch it (or at least it should have); infact the KERS *SHOULD* be discharged before anyone other than the driver+pit crew are allowed near it.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Elie
        Date: May 14th, 2012 @ 7:02 pm 

    Glad to see no one is hurt after such a historic race for Williams. +1 on where we’re fire marshals at track ?.Still surprised why people blame KERS without knowing for sure what happened. Im sure teams will learn from this and improve safety in future. KERS / ERS for 2014. These technologies are here to stay and improve for the future as it should be for pinnacle of motor sport.

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: mark powell
        Date: May 15th, 2012 @ 5:56 am 

    We will see on the fia report, if not my mistake. Good journolism james. No one has answered my question,” When the turbo era returns, did the fia say that the kers will double its output”….

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: mark powell
        Date: May 15th, 2012 @ 5:59 am 

    How is the kers discharged and what do they do with the discharged energy?…

    [Reply]

    DonSimón Reply:

    HRT come round with a bucket and collect it for the next race

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Chris
        Date: May 15th, 2012 @ 1:29 pm 

    I think your all missing 2 things here first the Williams KERS is different to everyone else in F1 Its a flywheel & not a electronic storage & second the main reason Williams are still in F1 & doing well again is the money injection they have from the sale of their KERS to other race teams & now I believe to AUDI & porches for their road cars.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Not true. They don’t use flywheel KERS system in F1.

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: Paul D
        Date: May 15th, 2012 @ 10:43 pm 

    You would think that it would be standard practice for all the pit garages to have sprinkler systems fitted.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    what kind of sprinkler system would you like? Powder, foam, water? Put the wrong kind on the wrong fire and it can make things worse! And then you’ve got the expense of installing and maintaining such a system. Maybe for F1 tracks that’s OK, but other tracks would have to charge the Clubs a lot more money possibly forcing some clubs away.

    I think the best thing to do right now is see what the investigation turns up and see what can be done to improve the situation. Remember though that they already put a lot of time and effort to ensure they set up in the safest manor, and this sort of incident has not happened in F1 for longer then I can remember (though I am only 27).

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: Paul D
        Date: May 17th, 2012 @ 6:09 pm 

    Powder can be used on liquid and electrical fires so this would be best.
    Maybe the cost might be a problem for the circuits so why not get the teams to have it built into the elaborate gantry systems they all put up inside the garage? The cost would be down to the f1 teams but im sure it would be a small expense compaired to the damage and injury that can be cased by a fire.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: Mazie
        Date: November 30th, 2013 @ 10:21 am 

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    [Reply]

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