On the weekend when Sid Watkins will be remembered by the F1 paddock, Heikki Kovalainen has praised the former F1 medic for the work he carried out to improve the sport,
Kovalainen suffered a high-speed accident at Catalunya during the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix while driving for McLaren, with a front-left tyre failure seeing him go off heavily into the barriers.
The Finn would spend two nights in hospital following the incident but escaped serious injury and was cleared to compete in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul two weeks later.
Speaking in his column in the Evening Standard
, Kovalainen said the impact Watkins had on safety in the sport had played a key role in the way he was treated after the accident and showed the how important his work was to F1.
“Safety in Formula One is better than ever before and much of that is down to Professor Sid Watkins, who sadly passed away last week,” Kovalainen said. “I didn't know Sid personally but I know how much he did for the sport.
“Without him, I may not have come away so well from the biggest crash of my career, in Barcelona in 2008.
“Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica had just pitted, I was in the middle of a corner when my tyre went and I just carried on straight into the wall. I still don't recall anything about the accident. The last thing I remember is those guys pitting in front of me and the next thing I know I'm waking up in hospital after being knocked out.
“Even now, it's strange watching an accident I was involved in but have no recollection of.”
F1 will come together to honour Watkins prior to the start of the Singapore race, while a book of condolence has been placed in the paddock to allow personnel to share their memories of the 84-year-old.