2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Famous Fires in Sport – Williams Garage 2012 Spanish Grand Prix

The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix is a race that will never be forgotten, not only for the thrilling race on the Circuit de Catalunya but also for the unexpected and dramatic turn of events that followed. Pastor Maldonado’s surprising win for the Williams team was overshadowed by a fire that erupted in the team’s garage post-race, leaving the paddock in chaos and sparking a controversy that would linger for years to come.

The Spanish Grand Prix

The race was a spectacle, with the typical strategic battles and wheel-to-wheel action on the track. However, the Venezuelan driver, Pastor Maldonado, stole the show by securing his first-ever Formula 1 victory. The win marked a historic moment for Maldonado and the Williams team, breaking a long-standing drought since their last triumph.

2012 Spanish Grand Prix

The Garage Fire

About 90 minutes after the race, the Williams garage caught fire. Pit crews from the Williams, Force India and Caterham teams were able to bring the blaze under control. Thirty-one people were injured, with seven transferred to local hospitals. All were later released. 

Teams were reported as lending replacement equipment to Williams for the Monaco Grand Prix. Maldonado rescued his twelve-year-old cousin Manuel from the fire, as he had a broken foot. The sight of flames engulfing the garage sent shockwaves through the paddock. This raised questions about the safety protocols in place, and the team modified its fuel handling safety procedures for the next race accordingly. This cast a shadow over the miraculous victory.

Investigations and Findings

In the aftermath of the incident, Formula 1 authorities launched an investigation into the garage fire. The focus was on determining the cause of the blaze and whether any foul play was involved. Early reports suggested that the fire was caused by fuel that exploded while being prepared for a routine post-race inspection. 

Photographs taken at the scene showed Senna’s car as the source of the fire, which started when a fuel rig used to drain the car began leaking. Other reports suggested that a spark from the KERS unit initiated the blaze. Senna’s FW34 car was damaged as a result; Maldonado’s car was not in the garage at the time. This led to heightened scrutiny of safety measures within the sport.

Conspiracy Theories

Amazing achievements that defy simple explanations give rise to conspiracy rumours. Maldonado’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix is a prime example of this.

The reason for the surprise was not the team’s victory after a protracted losing streak or their poor performance over many seasons but, because it was precisely in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of Sir Frank Williams, founder and owner of the team and great friend of the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone.

To put an end to anyone who might be doubting the existence of fortunate coincidences, a fire broke out in Williams’ garage at The Circuit of Catalunya shortly after the race.

“Anyone who believes that the Williams car all of a sudden, can win a Grand Prix without anything wrong is acting, he must also believe in Santa Claus. I doubt they can repeat the feat in the remaining 13 championship races. At the maximum, they will make some points characteristic of teams vying for midfield …”

“This is proof of how Ecclestone enriched with the bookmakers in England, he controls the outcome of this circus … He wanted to please his old friend honouring him with a victory of his bankrupted team … Must have sent Pirelli a message to deliver “special tyres” for Williams put on Maldonado’s car, or have advised the team to use some technical advantage outside the regulations as increase the 18,000 rpm allowed, and after sent their own mechanics to burn the garage to erase the traces or evidence of the wrongdoing … “

People made links between the fire and the miraculous win saying that the fire was to cover up and destroy any evidence that led to them winning the race. These claims are very extraordinary with many people getting injured in the fire. If anything like that were to have happened it would of been very inhumane. But in the world of social media, these conspiracies spread and are still talked about to this day.


The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix will forever be remembered not only for Maldonado’s surprising win but also for the controversies and chaos that ensued. While the conspiracy theories surrounding the victory may have added an extra layer of drama to the race, the garage fire highlighted the importance of stringent safety measures within the high-stakes world of Formula 1. The incident sparked conversations about the need for improved safety protocols. Ensuring that such events remain a rare occurrence in the future of the sport. As conspiracies still loom large over this race and Maldonado’s win, it will always be remembered and will forever go down in Formula 1 history.

Image Sources for Famous Fires in Sport – Williams Garage 2012 Spanish Grand Prix

Maldonado I Feared – Image 1 – link

Where is Maldonado Now – Image 2 – link

Famous Fires in Sport - Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Famous Fires in Sport – Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 will forever be etched in Formula 1 history for a harrowing incident that unfolded on the first lap. The Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean experienced a horrific crash that sent shockwaves through the motorsport community. This crash was seen on major news and most people knew about the incident at the time, even if they were not into motorsports.

This crash was part of the Netflix Formula 1 documentary ‘Drive to Survive’ and was the key aspect of the Season 3 Episode 9 ‘Man On Fire’. The Netflix documentary brought a lot of viewers to the sport, and this documentary gave a great insight into the behind-the-scenes of Formula 1 that the viewer could not see before. This episode gives a great look into the crash and what happened that weekend.

The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on November 29, 2020. As the lights went out for the start, chaos ensued. Romain Grosjean, starting from 19th on the grid, found himself involved in a dramatic incident just a few corners after the race began.

The Crash

Grosjean’s Haas car collided with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, sending him off the track and into the barriers at a high speed. The impact was so severe that the car split into two, with the front section penetrating the barrier, and erupting into flames. This sort of crash is very uncommon, that is what made it so terrifying.

The most remarkable aspect of this incident was Grosjean’s miraculous escape. After freeing himself from the constraints inside the cockpit, he hoisted himself out of the fire and climbed over the safety barrier. The prompt response of the track marshals and the effectiveness of the safety features in place played a vital role in preventing a more tragic outcome. The marshalls did an excellent job rushing to help Grosjean out of the flaming cockpit as well as extinguishing the fire with fire extinguishers as soon as possible.

A full investigation by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) was taken out of the cause of the fireball that was caused in the crash. Their statement read – 

“The car suffered extensive damage during the impact including separation of the power train assembly from the survival cell. The fuel tank inspection hatch on the left-hand side of the chassis was dislodged and the engine fuel supply connection was torn from the fuel tank ‘safety bladder’; both providing primary paths for the escape of fuel from the tank.”

“The high voltage Energy Recovery System (ERS) battery was significantly damaged, with some parts of the ERS battery assembly remaining with the powertrain and others remaining attached to the survival cell. The fire was ignited during the final moments of the barrier impact, starting from the rear of the survival cell and progressing forwards towards the driver as the fire grew.”

Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Safety Measures

Formula 1 has continuously evolved its safety standards, and Grosjean’s crash highlighted the effectiveness of these measures. The ‘Halo Device’, a safety innovation introduced in 2018, played a crucial role in protecting Grosjean’s head from the barriers during the impact. When the ‘Halo Device’ was introduced into Formula 1 back in 2018, many drivers and people around Formula 1 said they were not a fan and it ruined the look of the car. This device since its introduction has gone on to save countless lives and prevent many bad injuries.

The fire-resistant Nomex racing suit that the drivers are made to wear gave Grosjean the crucial seconds he needed for him to escape the flames.

Medical Intervention

Following his escape, Grosjean was immediately taken to the medical centre for examination. He suffered burns to his hands and a sprained ankle but was otherwise remarkably unharmed, a testament to the advancements in safety technology and the meticulous planning of the FIA.

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Investigation and Changes after the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

The FIA launched a thorough investigation into the crash, analysing data from the car and the circuit. Changes were subsequently made to the barrier design and other safety protocols to further enhance driver protection in similar incidents.


Romain Grosjean’s crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020 was a terrifying moment that showcased the resilience of both the driver and the safety measures in Formula 1. The incident prompted a reassessment of safety protocols, leading to improvements that continue to shape the future of the sport. As we reflect on this remarkable event, it serves as a stark reminder of the risks inherent in motorsport and the relentless pursuit of safety to minimise those risks.

Image Sources for Famous Fires in Sport – Grosjean 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

Man on Fire – Image 1 – Motosport.com – link

Crash Diagram – Image 2 – Crashalog – Grosjean 3D Crash Animation – F1 Bahrain 2020

Hands – Image 3 – Formula 1 – link

Famous Fires in Sport - Bradford City Stadium Fire

Famous Fires in Sport – Bradford City Stadium Fire

The Bradford City Stadium Fire was a tragic accident like no other. The fire occurred during a Football League Third Division match on Saturday, 11 May 1985 at the Valley Parade stadium in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The event led to the death of 56 spectators and injured at least 265. The Bradford City Stadium fire event changed the way that stadiums were built. This event paved the way for drastic new regulations regarding fire safety in these types of structures.

The Bradford City Stadium was renowned for its old-fashioned layout and features, which included the main stand’s wooden roof. Prior alerts had previously been issued over a significant accumulation of rubbish in the space beneath the stand’s seats. After the season, a steel structure was supposed to take its place, as the stand had been declared officially condemned.

The match between Bradford City and Lincoln City was the final game of the season. It had started in a celebratory atmosphere with the home team receiving the Third Division championship trophy.

The match kicked off at 3:04 pm and after 40 minutes of the first half, the score remained 0–0. The match was described to be a drab affair with neither team threatening to score.

At 3:44 pm, five minutes before half-time, the first sign of fire was noticed three rows from the back of block G. A glowing light could be seen, as reported by television commentator John Helm. 

In less than four minutes, with the windy conditions, the fire had engulfed the whole stand, trapping some people in their seats. In the panic that ensued, fleeing crowds escaped onto the pitch but others at the back of the stand tried to break down locked exit doors to escape. 

The fire escalated very rapidly, and flames became visible; police started to evacuate the stand. As the blaze spread, the wooden stands and roof covered with layers of highly flammable bituminous roofing quickly went ablaze. Burning timbers and molten materials fell from the roof onto the crowd and seating below, and dense black smoke enveloped a passageway behind the stand, where many spectators were trying to escape.

One eyewitness, Geoffrey Mitchell, told the BBC: “It spread like a flash. I’ve never seen anything like it. The smoke was choking. You could hardly breathe.” As spectators began to cascade over the wall separating the stand from the pitch, the linesman on that side of the pitch informed referee Norman Glover, who stopped the game with three minutes remaining before half-time. It took less than four minutes for the entire stand to be engulfed in flames.

There were no fire extinguishers in the stand’s passageway for fear of vandalism. One spectator ran to the clubhouse to find one but was overcome by smoke and impeded by others trying to escape, and could not return. Supporters either ran upwards to the back of the stand or downwards to the pitch to escape. The stand had no perimeter fencing to keep fans from accessing the pitch, thus averting an instance of crush asphyxia. Footage of the accident at this point shows levels of confusion among the spectators. While many were trying to escape or to cross the pitch to the relative safety of the neighbouring stands, other spectators were observed cheering or waving to the broadcasting pitchside cameras.

Most of the exits at the back were locked or shut and there were no stewards present to open them, but seven were forced open or found open. Three men smashed down one door and at least one exit was opened by people outside, which again helped prevent further deaths. Geoffrey Mitchell said: “There was panic as fans stampeded to an exit which was padlocked. Two or three burly men put their weight against it and smashed the gate open. Otherwise, I would not have been able to get out.” At the front of the stand, men threw children over the wall to help them escape. Most of those who escaped onto the pitch were saved.

People who had escaped the fire then tried to assist their fellow supporters. Police officers also assisted in the rescue attempts. One man clambered over burning seats to help a fan, as did player John Hawley, and one officer led fans to an exit, only to find it shut and had to turn around.

Bradford City’s coach Terry Yorath, whose family was in the stand, ran onto the pitch to help evacuate people. Another player went into the office space to ensure there was nobody there. One fan put his jumper over a fellow supporter’s head to extinguish flames. Those who escaped were taken out of the ground to neighbouring homes and a pub, where a television screened World of Sport, which broadcast video recorded of the fire just an hour after it was filmed. There were many cases of heroism, with more than 50 people later receiving police awards or commendations for bravery.

The fire brigade arrived at the ground four minutes after they were initially alerted. However, the fire had consumed the stand entirely by that point. The fire brigade was already faced with huge flames and very dense smoke on arrival. As many supporters still required rescue from the stand, they were unable to immediately start fighting the source of the fire.

The fire destroyed the main stand completely and left only burned seats, lamps and metal fences remaining. Within a few hours of the blaze starting, it was established that 56 people had been killed, many as a result of smoke inhalation, although some of them had survived until reaching the hospital.

What did the Bradford City Stadium Fire Change?

The Bradford City Stadium Fire led to rigid new safety standards in UK stadiums. This included the banning of new wooden grandstands. It was also a catalyst for the substantial redevelopment and the modernisation of many British football grounds. This changed many grounds across the country within the following thirty years. Bradford City continues to support the Bradford Burns Unit, at the University of Bradford, as its official charity.