Formula One: One Team

“While the competition on track may be as fierce as ever, but times like these are a reminder that as a sport, we are very much a community.”

When you consider Formula One as a sport it is highly apparent it is one of the most competitive fields out there, not only do you have driver fighting wheel to wheel with each other the paddock goes toe to toe every weekend as well. Mechanics duke it out to gift their driver the edge during pit stops, while technicians strive to iron out problems and strategists become ever inventive to outwit their foes. No matter which team badge adorns their chest, each man and women is there to ensure the team does its best and reach its potential.

It has been shown over the years, that occasionally the team is Formula One. Proving it doesn’t matter if the colour of your shirt is scarlet, navy, green, white or silver, when someone is in need they are supported.

Standing with Williams

The fire in the Williams garage today occurred about an hour after Pastor Maldonado took the team to a glorious and hard fought victory, their first since JP Montoya in 2004, a tonic to dilute the woes of their disastrous 2011 season. Leading from his inherited pole position, after Lewis Hamilton was heavily penalised for failing to make it back to the pits after a blistering qualifying, Maldonado was always in contention. It was a day of split fortunes with Bruno Senna crashing out at the hands of Michael Schumacher, but of course no one foresaw the dramatic scenes that unfolded afterwards.

One team

As acrid black smoke billowed out of the Williams set up team members from Force India, Caterham and Toro Rosso were quickly on the scene with water hoses and fire extinguishers fighting the fire, as well as members of the rest of the paddock. Trained to do this they may be but to see it in action remains a marvel, many were dressed in casual team attire the race having already finished and so were fighting a fire without any safety equipment. Initial reports were that Senna’s KERS unit exploded but now it seems like it was a fuel fire as it was being readied for transportation, and of course there is an ongoing investigation into events. Several members of Caterham, Williams and Force India are being treated for injuries sustained but none have been reported as serious, with smoke inhalation and burns being the main concerns.

Reports have surfaced since that teams are willing to lend equipment to Williams to ensure they can make it to Monaco and with Maldonado’s record there they will be wanting to build on this win. According to Sky’s Natalie Pinkham, “News is that the teams are all pulling together to loan Williams all the kit that they lost in the fire.”

Red Bull humour

Unfortunately this is not the only fire this season, Lotus suffered one as they were preparing for the Malaysian race earlier in the year. A faulty fridge caused their hospitality unit to be badly damaged, as well as one of Kimi Raikkonen’s spare helmets being lost. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the story of camaraderie was Red Bull’s lighthearted invoice for serviced rendered. Lotus were obviously thankful for the help saying, “The team would like to thank our counterparts from up and down the paddock, who have been incredibly supportive in offering help and facilities to get us through the weekend.” Although the biggest concern was where a particular driver was going to find his emergency ice cream source…

Still waiting for you Kubica

However it isn’t just fire that bring teams together, when Robert Kubica was badly injured during a rally the outpouring of well wishing from the paddock resulted in teams racing with their feelings clearly displayed. “Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia Kubica” was the message and even without the translation (naturally wishing Kubica a speedy recovery) there was no doubt they were missing the tough competitor and wanted him back. Felipe Massa’s freak accident in qualifying during the 2009 Hungarian GP weekend had a similar reaction, with drivers quick to express their desire to see him back on track.

And this level of respect extends far beyond parc fermé, when Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli tragically lost their lives in 2011 the motorsport community dug in to support each other, whether on two wheels or four in those two weeks it didn’t matter. And it is that sentiment that will carry on, and most pertinently can be seen at the first wave of safety measures championed most notably by Sir Jackie Stewart. With seemingly limites support Stewart was determined to halt the ever increasing number of drivers killed each season by avoidable causes, improved access to trackside medical treatment, encouraged the use of full-face helmets and the modernisation of circuit to include barriers.

Standing together to survive together

The pursuit of safety was then kickstarted once more with the death of one of the greats, Ayrton Senna, during the one worst weekends Formula One has experienced. With Rubens Barrichello injured and Roland Ratzenberger losing his life the sport rallied around and pledged to improve safety further, but despite this today’s events in Barcelona proves that even at the edge of technological advances Formula One is and always will be a dangerous sport.

“While the competition on track may be as fierce as ever, but times like these are a reminder that as a sport, we are very much a community.”

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