Tributes are pouring in for Professor Sid Watkins OBE, best known for his efforts in improving safety in F1, who has died just days after celebrating his 84th birthday. What follows is a selection of tributes...
"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 missed. Our thoughts are with the Watkins family at this difficult time."
Jean Todt (FIA President):
"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."
Gerard Saillant (FIA Institute President):
"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."
Ron Dennis (McLaren):
"Today, the world of motor racing lost one of it's true greats. 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 F1 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."
Sir Frank Williams:
“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.”
Eric Boullier (Lotus F1):
“I rarely had the pleasure of meeting Sid Watkins, but anyone connected with Formula 1 – or indeed motorsport in general – will know what an impact he has had on the sport. Drivers of many past and future generations owe him a lot; his passion and dedication have changed the face of safety in motorsport and saved a lot of lives in the process. We have lost a true great of Formula 1; I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to his family at this difficult time”
Adrian Newey (Red Bull Racing):
“Professor Sid Watkins became a very good friend over the years. He was one of the great characters of the sport, who quietly changed the nature of it with the advancement of safety. He was very passionate about motor racing in every respect and tried to ensure the health of it at all levels, including club level and national racing. He will be sadly missed.”
Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing):
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Professor Sid Watkins. His contribution to the safety of Formula One has been enormous. Many drivers and personnel within Formula One owe him a great deal. Above all, he was a genuinely nice person and one of life's real characters. I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to his family.”