Tributes pour in for F1 safety legend Sid Watkins

Tributes have this week been pouring in following the death of former race doctor and F1 engineer Sid Watkins.

Watkins, who died of a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 84, is credited with 'transforming' safety standards of the sport and saving lives - both through his initial entry into the sport as a doctor, and later as chairman of the FIA's Safety Committee.
Arriving on the F1 scene in the late 1970s, appointed by Bernie Ecclestone, Watkins went about systematically improving medical conditions around race circuits.

While we take high standards as a given today, 30 to 40 years ago F1 medical facilities were very much lacking - ranging from primitive Red Cross-staffed huts to a converted bus at one German circuit.

By the early '80s - and with Ecclestone behind him - Watkins had devised a protocol of standards for F1 medical centres and emergency procedures for every track, saving lives and making the sport considerably less dangerous.

"The world of motor racing has lost one of its true greats," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

"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 he did more than anyone, over many years, to make Formula One as safe as it is today.

"Many drivers and ex-drivers owe their lives to his careful and expert work, which resulted in the massive advances in safety levels that today's drivers possibly take for granted."

FIA president Jean Todt added: "This is a truly sad day for the FIA family and the entire motor sport community. Sid was loved and respected in equal measure by all those who knew and worked with him. We will always be grateful for the safety legacy that he has left our sport."

Racing drivers have also paid tribute to Watkins. Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Ayrton Senna - the crash of whom was attended by Watkins - tweeted: "RIP Prof. Sid Watkins. Sad news for us who stay behind."

F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello tweeted: "It was Sid Watkins that saved my life in Imola 94. Great guy to be with, always happy... [Thanks] for everything [you] have done for us drivers. RIP."
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