The Williams team had an extraordinary weekend in Barcelona, the team winning its first victory in eight years, thanks to the efforts of Venezuela’s Pastor Maldonado – much to the delight of the many Williams F1 fans in the paddock. There was further drama on Sunday evening when there was a flash fire in the team’s pit garage when Sir Frank Williams was talking to the team and photographs were being taken. It is not clear how this happened but the result was that one team member suffered serious burns, while a number of others from several different teams suffered from smoke inhalation as they fought the fire.
The fire spoiled the celebrations for the team that had gone for eight years without success and came soon after Frank Williams’s 70th birthday, which was celebrated by the team on Saturday evening. Maldonado’s victory was a well-judged and hard-fought one, against the very best, and his status in F1 circles went up accordingly, elevating him from being seen as a quick but erratic pay-driver, to being seen as a serious player with race-winning potential.
The victory was vindication for the structure put in place in recent years by the team’s former CEO Adam Parr, who left the organisation a few weeks ago after failing to agree with the team owners on how the Concorde Agreement negotiations should be handled. Parr took much criticism for hiring the engineers and drivers chosen, but the win proved that his choices were sound. It was vindication too for technical director Mike Coughlan, who returned to the sport last year after three years away following the 2007 spying scandal in which he was implicated. Coughlan has kept an incredibly low profile this season, but it is clear that his involvement has been of key importance in the Williams turnaround.