May 13 2012
A full investigation has been launched into the cause of a fire that turned Williams' Spanish Grand Prix victory celebrations sour.
Pastor Maldonado took the chequered flag to give Williams their first taste of success for 132 races, their last back in Brazil in 2004, and becoming the first Venezuelan to win in F1 history.
In the most unpredictable season for years, the first five races have been won by five different drivers and constructors for only the second time in the sport's history.
For Maldonado, who prior to Sunday's race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya had claimed just five points from his previous 23 races in F1, the champagne flowed in the immediate aftermath.
But just 90 minutes after the chequered flag dropped, as founder Sir Frank Williams gave a speech to every team member in the garage, a blaze quickly took hold.
Williams have confirmed it "originated from the fuel area", and they, along with the fire services and police "are working together to determine the root cause".
With photographers and cameramen also in attendance, a swift evacuation took place, with Maldonado turning hero to save his 12-year-old cousin Manuel. The 26-year-old has been pictured giving Manuel, who is holding his uncle's winner's trophy in his hand, a piggy back down the pit lane due to a broken right foot covered by a protective boot.
As thick, acrid black smoke billowed from the garage, Williams personnel, along with those from Caterham and Force India in the neighbouring garages, fought to bring the blaze under control.
The FIA have confirmed in a statement that 31 team members were seen by circuit medical centre staff, the majority for smoke inhalation, with 24 released. Seven, however, were transferred to a variety of local hospitals for treatment, one from Williams in particular for severe burns, understood to be to 40% of his body.
Regarding the fire, motor sport's governing body added: "The flames were quickly brought under control through the combined intervention of staff from Williams, Caterham and Force India, supported by the circuit fire services. The FIA is collaborating closely with the Spanish authorities investigating this incident."