F1 figures pay tribute to Sid Watkins

2012 F1 season

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The Formula One community has paid tribute to the late Sid Watkins.

The former F1 safety delegate passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84.

His family expressed their gratitude for the messages of support for Watkins:

“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.”

Here are some of the tributes paid to Watkins by prominent F1 figures:

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.
Jean Todt

Today the world of motor racing lost one of its true greats: Professor Sid Watkins.

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 that he did more than anyone, over many years, to make Formula 1 as safe as it is today.

As such, 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.

But, more than that, Sid was a dear friend of mine, and I’ll miss him bitterly.

To his widow Susan, and to his family, I extend my sincerest condolences.

He was a truly great man, and the world of motor racing simply won’t be the same without him.
Ron Dennis

Sid Watkins gained the respect and admiration of all the drivers throughout his time in Formula One. I know a number of them, throughout their time as racing drivers, looked to Sid for many different kinds of advice, in addition to his medical expertise. Perhaps most significant in my mind is that Sid was held in high regard by Bernie Ecclestone.

He was in all respects a very special human being. In particular, his dedication to the safety of the drivers required endless persistence to achieve the safety standards and level of medical care that were necessary to save drivers’ lives.

My own endorsement of Sid’s abilities goes without saying. He took splendid care of me when I spent 11 weeks in his hospital post-injury. After that I emerged as a human being who, if not fully mobile, could continue with a perfectly normal and healthy lifestyle. I remain forever grateful to him.
Sir Frank Williams

For a long time I wanted to call him every time I had to make a decision. Then I just started thinking “what would he do in this situation?”

And finally, for better or for worse, I realized I was doing just what he’d do (but probably not as well!) When I told him this a few years ago, he smiled and said “Of course old boy! You’ve had a bloody great teacher!”

It took me a few years before I actually called him Sid. It was at spa, maybe 1993, and i asked him if I could. And he said, “the bums sleeping on the stairs of my hospital call me Sid, I don’t see why you shouldn’t”
Gary Hartstein

Sid was a true gentleman of our sport and always a pleasure to work with. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him, from doctors and drivers to officials and fans. Sid’s influence will live on for many years to come.
Gerard Saillant (Watkins’ successor as FIA Institute President)

It’s a sad day, with the loss of professor Sid Watkins. Without his incredible contribution to the sport, our lives as drivers would be a risk. My condolences go out to his family.
Lewis Hamilton

Rest in peace Sid Watkins. Motorsport wouldn’t be what it is today without you. Thank you for all you’ve done, we as drivers are so grateful.
Jenson Button

Sid would often prescribe ‘a stiff whisky and aspirin’ unless your leg was hanging off. His way of saying ‘just put up and get on with it’.

Sid was the ‘go to’ man for health in motorsport. He helped, saved, or made more comfortable, numerous people who never sat in a racing car.
Martin Brundle

Very sad to hear Prof Sid Watkins has passed away. Single handedly achieved a step-change in the safety of world motor sport.

My own interaction with Sid Watkins came when he looked after Martin Donnelly in intensive care at the Royal London. Inspirational and caring. The reaction to the passing of Prof Sid Watkins from the world of F1 will demonstrate just how highly he was regarded. By everyone.
Mark Gallagher

He was the most special, serene man. A surgeon’s surgeon and great friend. Hugged him and said goodbye on Tuesday night. RIP Prof. Love you so much.
Manish Pandey

Every driver will remember the contribution he made to the safety of our sport.
Mario Andretti

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
Rubens Barrichello

Sid Watkins was one of the best men I have met in my life, totally selfless and the world has lost a great.
David Coulthard

RIP Prof. Sid Watkins. Sad news for us who stay behind.
Bruno Senna

RIP Prof Sid Watkins. You and Dr Gary Hartstein were my guardian angels rescuing myself from the F1 accident in 2001. We’ll miss you.
Luciano Burti

Prof Sid Watkins was a real gentleman who always gave you time, as well as being a pioneer in the safety of F1. Will always be remembered.
Ben Edwards

An amazing man who has left an indelible mark on so many peoples lives in motorsport. May you rest in peace Sid Watkins.
Derek Bell

Sad to hear professor Sid Watkins has passed away, one of the true greats in motorsport. RIP
Heikki Kovalainen

RIP. Prof. Watkins, your work will truly be missed.
Narain Karthikeyan

RIP Prof. Sid Watkins. You did so much for all us drivers that compete in the sport that we love so much. Thank you.
Gary Paffett

Sad news that Sid Watkins; one of the most helpful persons in/for motorsport has passed away. My thoughts are with him, his family and friends.
Nick Heidfeld

Really sad news that Prof Sid Watkins passed. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Will miss your great sense of humour. RIP
Johnny Herbert

Sid Watkins a lovely man who did so much for our sport – he’ll be sadly missed.
Tiff Needell

Just saw the news that Sid has passed away. That news hurts.
Alexander Wurz

RIP Sid Watkins, thanks for all you’ve done to the racing world.
Christian Fittipaldi

Thanks Sid Watkins for having helped make our sport as relatively safe as it is today. All of you from Sid’s family can be very proud!
Nico Rosberg

F1 Fanatic adds its sincere condolences to Watkins’ family.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “F1 figures pay tribute to Sid Watkins”

  1. Such melancholic morning :(

  2. Well deserved. Rest In Peace prof.

  3. Sad news… so many many race drivers alive today as a result of his work…. RIP, he’ll be enjoying fishing with Ayrton

  4. this feels like the most upsetting motorsport news ive ever heared. so sad. what a brilliant man. RIP

  5. I loved hearing his words in the Senna film, a truly honest and caring man. rest in peace.

  6. Constantijn Blondel
    13th September 2012, 13:45

    A cold shiver went down my spine when I heard the news, and I shed a few tiny tears. I think it says enough that he managed to be held in highest esteem, both as a guardian angel of anything motorsport, and an alround wonderful human being, even by people like YT who only know him from TV and magazine interviews, and never sat in a racing car in their life.

    Rest in peace Sid – you’ll be missed.

  7. I saw the FIA Institute have put an interview Manish Panday had with Sid Watkins on their website as it was one of the last he gave. A beautiful read in memory of a great man.

  8. Sid was loved and respected in equal measure

    This is what someone really has to achieve in his life, and he did without “winning” any championship or GP.
    what else can be said.

  9. RIP Professor , I think the best way to honor him after his death is to continue on the same line he established to improve safety in Motorsports

    1. @tifoso1989 I have no doubt that would be the best tribute to him.

  10. I came home yesterday night after university and found about this all over twitter. It was terribly shocking news, someone that did so much for the sport I truly love, who made it easier for me to watch, as I’m not wondering how the drivers are after an accident.

    We almost always say “it was nothing” after a crash, and I guess that’s mainly because of Sid Watkins.

    RIP Prof, hope you finally get to go fishing with Ayrton.

    1. hope you finally get to go fishing with Ayrton

      I’m sure he will……

  11. What a man, what a life. Universally respected and liked, his passing will leave us poorer.

  12. The passing of Prof Sid Watkins on the day of the Armstrong memorial has made it a `where were you day` when I found out.

  13. For a man who changed and influenced F1….I wish that now, u go fishing with Senna, something that u always wanted. R.I.P both of you and enjoy the heaven’s fishes!!

  14. A great gentleman with a wicked sense of humour, he will be missed.

  15. Hopefully we see some tributes next weekend in Singapore by drivers or other personnel. Especially something written on the medical car.

  16. I was thinking its certainly worth the Pole Position left empty.

  17. I was in the pub last night and just happened to check Twitter. As soon as a I saw a few tweets I felt quite saddened by it. Took me a little by surprise.

    Some lovely words above. As weird as it is to say, but I am looking forward to a proper F1 send off for him. The man deserves so much noise and I’m sure he will get it.

  18. The greatest champion F1 has ever had. Thank you for providing us with years of enjoyment.

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