The deputy team principal of Formula One team Force India has criticised the response of track marshalls to the dramatic fire which engulfed race winners Williams garage last night [May 13].

Just 90 minutes after Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado had given the team their first race since 2004, a blaze overtook the Williams pit area while team founder Sir Frank Williams gave a congratulatory speech to everyone involved.

The fire was said to have been started by a lose rig in the fuel area of the garage, and Force India DTP Bob Fearnley said it was left to members of his team and those from Caterham in the neighbouring garage to help Williams personnel put out the fire as marshalls at the Circuit de Cataluyna failed to react.

"Incompetent would be a very polite way of saying what these people have done here today," Fearnley told the Daily Telegraph.

"There's no training, no procedures. I went down to see how my man is, and I had to fight my way in. We need to look seriously at the training of people at the circuits - I'm not impressed at all." 

With the garage engulfed in thick, black smoke (see picture) team mechanics acted quickly to put out the fire which saw 31 team members require medical attention and seven sent to hospital.

Maldonado, who had only just become the first-ever Venezuelan race winner, was even called into action as he helped his young cousin escape the fire which Caterham team member Tom Webb said promoted some acts of "true heroism".

Writing in the Sun, Webb said: "For a number of those who helped out this was not their first F1 fire. But for me, this was the first time I have been so close to something so potentially life threatening and I am humbled by the way the men and women of my sport responded.

"F1 provides thrills and spills but it is a dangerous environment. Seeing how the paddock acted as one shows me how lucky I am to work with real heroes."

Watch the F1 fire in full courtesy of BBC:

Posted 14/05/2012 by (photo courtesy Rich Fowler)