BARCELONA // As the last remaining debris in Williams' gutted pit garage at Circuit de Catalunya was cleared yesterday, the consequences of an eventful Sunday evening in Spain were being analysed around the world.
Pastor Maldonado, the Venezuelan driver, was being cast as a national hero in his home country after securing his maiden Formula One victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. According to a Reuters report, scores of his compatriots in the capital of Caracas tooted their horns and unfurled banners reading "Maldonado, pride of Venezuela!" after the 27 year old became their country's first F1 winner.
Following the fire that ripped through the Williams' garage immediately after the race, Maldonado's reputation took a further heroic twist when he was photographed carrying his young cousin to safety.
While seven team members - from Williams, Caterham and Force India - were taken to nearby hospitals, local Spanish authorities said last night the most serious of the patients was suffering from burns across 15 per cent of his body.
At the Williams team base in Oxfordshire, England, personnel were evaluating the true cost of the fire, but Mark Gillan, the chief operations officer, played down fears the car belonging to Bruno Senna, Maldonado's teammate, was damaged beyond repair and would be unable to feature in next week's Monaco Grand Prix.
"We had a lot of damage and we have lost a lot of equipment, including IT equipment," Gillan told Autosport. "Over the next couple of days we will be looking at where we are parts-wise. We will have everything we need to run operationally at Monaco, but we may be missing a few of the extras because obviously we don't carry a complete set of spares for everything."
Gillan added he was thankful to team members from other marques who rushed to Williams' aid. "We were overwhelmed by the support," he said. "It was really impressive. It was a serious issue and I am very grateful indeed."