SEPTEMBER 13, 2012
Tributes pour in for Sid Watkins
The motor sport world has today paid tribute to Professor Sid Watkins, who has died at the age of 84. Universally known as 'Prof,' the eminent neurosurgeon was responsible for vast strides in motor sport safety.
McLaren chairman Ron Dennis said: "Today the world of motor racing lost one of its true greats. No, he wasn't a driver; no, he wasn't an engineer; no, he wasn't a designer. He was a doctor and it's probably fair to say that he did more than anyone, over many years, to make Formula 1 as safe as it is today.
"As such, many drivers and ex-drivers owe their lives to this careful and expert work, which resulted in the massive advances in safety levels that today's drivers possibly take for granted.
"But, more than that, Sid was a dear friend of mine, and I'll miss him bitterly. To his widow, Susan, and to his family, I extend my sincerest condolences.
"He was truly a great man, and the world of motor racing simply won't be the same without him."
Watkins originally worked at Brands Hatch and at Watkins Glen before Bernie Ecclestone persuaded him to take a more all-encompassing F1 role.
Starrting in the seventies Watkins was responsible for ensuring that circuit medical facilities, previously a poor joke, were properly equipped and staffed. He pioneered the use of medical cars and the compulsory requirement for a medical helicopter to be present at each grand prix.
When Watkins retired as F1's permament doctor, he became chairman of the FIA's Expert Advisory Committee.
Straight-talking, like many medical men, Watkins also possessed rich, dry humour and many drivers sought him out for advice on many matters and came to regard him as a personal friend, Ayrton Senna notable among them.