Formula 1's hugely respected doctor Sid Watkins, one of the pioneers in vastly improved medical standards in grand prix racing, has decided to step down from his role after more than 25 years of work in the sport. He will be replaced by current deputy Gary Hartstein.
Watkins, who is now 78, first got involved in F1 during the 1970s when he came to the attention of then Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone. Since then he has worked tirelessly to improve safety and medical intervention at events and ensure drivers' safety is not compromised by poor medical facilities.
FIA president Max Mosley has paid tribute to the work Watkins has done in the sport - and emphasised that he will continue to have an input into improved safety with his role as president of the FIA institute for motor sport safety.
"Professor Watkins has made a unique contribution to improving the standards of safety and medical intervention in Formula 1 and indeed internationally throughout motor sport," said Mosley.
"We very much look forward to the continuation of this contribution in his new role as the first President of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety. The newly established Institute is based in Paris and brings together all the expertise in motor sport safety that exists within the FIA, its membership, and the wider automotive world.
"Under Professor Watkins' guidance I am convinced that the FIA Institute will become a centre of excellence and world leader in the fields of motor sport safety research and training."
Speaking about his new job, Watkins said: "The FIA Institute's sole purpose is to promote improvements in motorsport safety and, where possible, to transfer the benefits of these improvements from motorsport to motoring. The potential scope for our activities is enormous."
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