Mark Gillan: “The fire took a heavy toll”

Just 10 days after the devastating fire in Barcelona Williams was fully set-up in the Monaco garage today after a marathon effort by team members.

Williams has also borrowed equipment from rivals who generously offered to help out.

“We lost about 90% of all the garage infrastructure, and pretty much everything IT related,” said chief operations engineer Mark Gillan. “So we lost all the radios, all the intercom equipment, all the rack equipment, all the IT storage system.

“So I would say about 90% of the complete garage infrastructure was destroyed, and on Bruno’s car we lost pretty much every metallic component as well, due to corrosion. So the fire took a heavy toll.

“We’ve been able to replace pretty much everything. We’re certainly fully operational. There’s a few things that we don’t have, such an abundance of radios and things like that, but it doesn’t stop us operationally. And we’ve borrowed equipment from other teams as well.

“Not only did they come to help with the fire and on that side, but they have come good on their promises of offers of support and with certain teams we’ve taken them up. So we’re borrowing equipment for the moment, and we’re fully operational. I was just saying to Sir Frank if you go to the garage you wouldn’t know we had a fire. It’s an unbelievable effort from everybody concerned.

“In reality you can run an F1 car with laptop if you have to – but you don’t want to, and we’re back, fully operational.”

Gillan admitted that the task would have been much harder if Spain was followed immediately by Monaco, as was the case in 2011.

“That would have been much more of a struggle of course – if it had been a back-to-back, it would have been a struggle. As it has been, it has been a struggle, and a lot of long hours have been worked by the people in the factory to prepare the things, because literally everything that was in that garage from an IT side and general infrastructure was destroyed.”

Gillan said the fire had been discussed with the other teams at a meeting of the FIA’s Technical Working Group, and Williams had passed on all its findings in an effort to improve overall safety.

“On the Friday afterwards I attended a TWG meeting. Things were still coming up, and I spoke to all the technical directors and the FIA to explain what our understanding was, and the chain of events that caused the fire. It happened in the fuel handling area, so it was a fuel handling related fire, but the exact cause, we’re still investigating. We’re liaising with the FIA to ensure that, not just within the garage, but obviously within the circuit, we improve things to ensure that something doesn’t happen again.

“I think there will definitely be a change to circuit procedures. But we have all agreed a certain level of cover at a circuit, and that level of cover was in place, so I think collectively we need to look at the level of cover, when it’s in place, both the fire and the medical support. Undoubtedly things will change as a result of this.”

Regarding the last hospitalised team member, Gillan added: “Things are going well there, and he should be out in about 10 days. He’s in good spirits.”

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