[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.