AUTOSPORT
Search:
F1 NEWS 

Former F1 medical delegate Sid Watkins dies aged 84

Sid Watkins 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix

Sid Watkins, Formula 1's former FIA Medical Delegate, who was key in making the sport as safe as it is today, has died. He was 84.

Widely known throughout motor racing as 'the Prof', Watkins served for more than two decades as head of F1's on-track medical team - improving safety standards and saving the lives of many drivers.

Born and educated in Liverpool, Watkins had worked as a doctor at Brands Hatch and Watkins Glen before being offered the medical delegate role for F1 after meeting Bernie Ecclestone in 1978.

He campaigned hard to improve safety standards and medical facilities at tracks through a spell where the sport lost many high-profile drivers - including Ronnie Peterson and Gilles Villeneuve.

His efforts to ensure that medical centres were up to scratch, medical cars were used correctly and a medical helicopter was mandatory helped improve the sport dramatically.

That work helped save the lives of a number of drivers through Watkins' 26-year spell in F1, including Didier Pironi, Nelson Piquet, Gerhard Berger, Rubens Barrichello, Mika Hakkinen, Martin Donnelly, and Karl Wendlinger.

But his saddest weekend came at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, where Watkins witnessed first-hand as both Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna - a personal friend - were killed.

After that Imola weekend, Watkins was involved in the setting up of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee, which eventually became the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety.

Watkins retired from his medical role in F1 in 2005, but continued to push for ever improved standards through his role as the first president of the FIA Institute, before stepping down from that position in 2011 but retaining an honorary role.

He most recently returned to the spotlight in the film 'Senna' where he recounted the Imola 1994 weekend and how he tried to persuade the Brazilian racing driver to retire from the sport after Ratzenberger's crash so the pair of them could 'go fishing'.

Watkins famously wrote in his autobiography about what he told Senna: "What else do you need to do? You have been world champion three times, you are obviously the quickest driver. Give it up and let's go fishing."

AUTOSPORT sends its condolences to the Watkins family.

  More news  
  BROWSE NEWS & GRAPEVINE
View today's stories
View yesterday's stories
View this month's stories
View last month's stories
Or view stories from:
<<   Sep 2014   >>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 
  RELATED LINKS
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the autosport.com shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
  FOLLOW AUTOSPORT ON
FOLLOW AUTOSPORT ON TWITTER
Paddock insight from group F1 editor Jonathan Noble
Grand Prix news updates from F1 editor Edd Straw
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed
  RELATED STORIES
January memorial for Sid Watkins
FIA's Singapore tribute to Watkins
Ecclestone: Watkins was irreplaceable
Permanent Watkins tribute 'needed'
Watkins familiy moved by tributes
Formula 1 pays tribute to Sid Watkins
Haymarket