F1 doctor Sid Watkins passes away leaving huge legacy in motorsport
13 September, 2012
Sep.13 (GP247) Eric Sidney Watkins OBE, commonly known within the Formula One fraternity as Professor Sid, or simply as Prof, passed away on 12 September 2012.
Watkins, a world-renowned English neurosurgeon, served twenty-six years as the FIA Formula One Safety and Medical Delegate, head of the F1 on-track medical team, and first responder in case of a crash. He helped to save the lives of many drivers including Gerhard Berger, Martin Donnelly, Érik Comas, Mika Häkkinen, Rubens Barrichello and Karl Wendlinger. Watkins was also known for his friendship with driver Ayrton Senna until the death of the latter.
Watkins revolutionised F1 safety with the support of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, making safety changes against huge resistance from circuit owners in the seventies, an era when driver mortality in F1 was very high. His resolve and commitment resulted in all F1 approved circuits, these days, featuring high tech, fully equiped medical units capable of dealing with virtually all emergencies.
On January 20, 2005, Watkins announced his retirement from his various medical positions in the FIA, but stated his intention to continue as President of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety. Since then, the FIA has recognised Watkins for being largely responsible for the modernization of medical standards in Formula One.
FIA President (at the time) Max Mosley appointed Watkins’s longtime deputy Gary Hartstein as his successor. Following his departure Mosley remarked that “Professor Watkins has made a unique contribution to improving the standards of safety and medical intervention throughout motor sport.”
In July 2008, Watkins was honoured for the award of ‘Most Outstanding Contribution to the Motorsport Industry” with the award presented by Martin Brundle at the House of Lords.
On December 8, 2011 it was announced that Watkins had stepped down as President of the FIA Institute, but would continue in an honorary role. The day after retiring, he received the FIA Academy Gold Medal for Motor Sport at the official FIA Gala prize-giving ceremony in Dubai.
Watkins was married, with four sons and two daughters. He died on 12 September 2012.
We at YallaF1.com pass on our condolences and mourn the loss of one of the most important men in the history of motorsport. Forza Prof.
Subbed by AJN.