McLaren offer help to Williams

McLaren has offered to help Williams following a fire that erupted at its garage.

A Formula One racing car. Picture: AFP

LONDON - McLaren have offered Formula One rivals Williams their assistance after fire swept through the team's garage as they celebrated Pastor Maldonado's Spanish Grand Prix victory on Sunday.

A McLaren spokesman said the Woking team were ready to lend a hand in replacing whatever damaged equipment Williams might need to go racing in Monaco next week.

The blaze erupted after team members had gathered in front of the Circuit de Catalunya garage for a victory photograph with their Venezuelan driver.

Team founder Frank Williams, who is in a wheelchair, was hurriedly pushed to safety while Maldonado carried a 12-year-old cousin - who had an injured foot - on his back along the smoke-filled pit lane.

Mechanics from other teams and Formula One personnel battled through acrid fumes and thick smoke to fight the fire with extinguishers before emergency services arrived.

Only Brazilian Bruno Senna's car was in the garage, with Maldonado's elsewhere according to post-race rules, and it was not clear how much damage it had sustained. Computers and technical equipment was destroyed.

McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe, director of design and development Neil Oatley and sporting director Sam Michael all worked previously for Williams while 2009 world champion Jenson Button started his F1 career there.

Williams said in a statement that one team member had suffered burns and remained in hospital in Spain.

"He is stable and will return to the UK within the next 48 hours to receive further medical care," the team said.

"His family are in constant communication and he is in good spirits."

Two others had been released and returned home to Britain from Barcelona after receiving treatment for smoke inhalation.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Sunday that seven F1 personnel were taken to hospital and 31 tended to by doctors.

Williams thanked all those, from rival teams and other areas of the paddock, who had helped put out the fire and investigations into the cause of it were ongoing.

"I was pleased to welcome back to the factory the majority of our team this morning," said the 70-year-old principal, who added that the damage was "relatively speaking" limited.

"While the incident was unexpected and definitely most undesirable, it has demonstrated the genuine cohesiveness, camaraderie and spirit of co-operation that exists within the Formula One paddock," he added.

"The astonishing response from the teams and other paddock personnel was immediate, unconditional and overwhelming."