He was one of the prominent figures in establishing the secure environment that Formula One enjoys today, and had attended to the needs of great racing drivers like Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna. But now the automotive world mourns the loss of a great character as the calmly-looking neurosurgeon Dr. Sid Watkins or informally known as “The Professor” down in the Formula One paddock had recently passed away at the age of 84 from a heart attack.
This news is confirmed by the piece of information disclosed by the Watkins’ family, “Professor Sid Watkins, Formula One doctor and leading neurosurgeon, died peacefully in a London hospital last night aged 84 after a short illness. His family would like to thank everyone for the many messages of support and the touching tributes from the world of motor racing, medicine and beyond. There will be a private family funeral in Scotland followed by a memorial service in London in the coming months, details of which will be announced shortly.”
Having served for 26 years in F1 medical scene, he was often the first one to arrive and attend the stricken drivers. And with the first-hand experience gained throughout the years, he led on to the creation of the FIA Expert Safety Advisory Committee, or known today as the FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety, to increase the sport’s safety overall. This comes after the horrible experience of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, which saw both Roland Ratzenberger and his close friend Ayrton Senna lost their lives.
He was more than just a doctor in the field, as he was also a wonderful man to be with, shown by the support by Rubens Barrichello on his twitter page, “It was Sid Watkins that saved my life in Imola 94. great guy to be with, always happy…tks for everything u have done for us drivers. RIP.”
Although his passing is a great loss in the F1 scene, the achievements and tremendous efforts in making the sport as safe as it is today is truly remarkable. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and may he rest in peace.