The death of Professor Sid Watkins was reported last night, and has been confirmed by the FIA overnight.
Since then, tributes have been pouring in from all over the world – from drivers whose lives he saved, to close friends, to journalists and team managers. There isn’t enough space to fit them all here, but here’s the most moving:
The FIA and the FIA Institute extend their sincere condolences to the Watkins
family on the sad news of the death of FIA Institute Honorary President
Professor Sid Watkins.
Throughout his life Sid made a unique contribution to motor sport, particularly
in improving safety for F1 drivers, officials and spectators around the world.
He was highly respected as an acclaimed neurosurgeon, F1 medical delegate,
chairman of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee, and as the first
President of the FIA Institute.
Sid's experience, intelligence and endearing humour will be forever greatly
Our thoughts are with the Watkins family at this difficult time.
Jean Todt, FIA President, said: "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."
Gérard Saillant, FIA Institute President, said: "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."
-FIA Official Statement
Motor sport has lost a true visionary and character with death of Prof Sid
Watkins. Great man, funny too. Saved my left foot being amputated. 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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Sid Watkins was one of the best men I have met in my life, totally selfless and the
world has lost a great.
Prof was a great, great, man. Many drivers owe him their lives, including Mika
Hakkinen & Rubens Barrichello. He made F1 safety what it is.
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.
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.
Hundreds more messages show the impact that Sid had on the motoring world. Finally, I reccommend this article by Manish Pandley, who wrote and produced the Senna movie, one of the last men ever to interview Sid Watkins. Well worth 20 minutes of your time.