Renowned F1 doctor Watkins passes awaySeptember 13th, 2012 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS
London, Sep 13 (IANS) Former FIA medical delegate Professor Sid Watkins, who served for nearly three decades as Formula One’s doctor and medical chief, has died at the age of 84.
Watkins passed away in a hospital here Thursday.
Popularly known as ‘The Prof’, Watkins made incalculable contribution to the sport with his active involvement at the scene of accidents and with his work behind the scenes to help improve all aspects of motorsport safety.
Watkins, son of a Liverpool garage owner, after training as a doctor at Liverpool University Medical School served the British Army in Africa. Later, he trained as a neurosurgeon in Oxford.
It was while working in Oxford that he became regularly involved in motor racing. The legendary racing track of Silverstone was only a few kilometres away from his home in Oxford.
It was Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone who invited Watkins to become the first full time F1 doctor starting at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix.
Only a few months later he faced a difficult situation when driver Ronnie Peterson died after crashing during the Italian Grand Prix.
Over subsequent decades Watkins oversaw improvements in medical facilities around the world while personally dealing with many major accidents.
He became an integral part of the F1 scene forming close relationships with many key figures and drivers, famously with legendary driver and three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna.
In the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola saw him face probably the biggest challenge as a doctor when Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger died during the racing weekend.
However, the incidents led to a safety campaign instigated by former FIA president Max Mosley under the supervision of Watkins under the banner of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee.
Although he retired from his on-circuit doctor role before the 2005 season, he remained involved with safety matters as president of the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety, a role held until stepping down last year.
He also wrote two books about his experiences, Life at the Limit and Beyond the Limit.
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