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Sid steered F1 to safer racing days
A PRESCOT Grammar School old boy, who went on to become a top neurosurgeon and revolutionised safety measures in Formula 1, has died.
Professor Sid Watkins passed away last month at the age of 84. His love and passion for his field took him to the role of official F1 doctor in 1978.
It was in that year that Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson died in hospital, after crashing in the Italian Grand Prix. This led to Watkins blaming ambulance response times for the tragedy.
In less than two weeks, Professor Watkins was provided with a fully-equipped medical car, which since then has conducted the first lap of every race at Formula 1 tracks around the globe.
The introduction of the safety car was just one of the medical facilities that Sid Watkins brought to the sport of Formula 1.
In 1994, one of the most tragic crashes in the history of motor racing caused the death of the man that is widely regarded as the greatest F1 driver of all time, Ayrton Senna.
In 2002, Professor Watkins received an OBE, which further recognised his excellence within his field. Two years later, the University of Liverpool presented him with an honorary doctorate at a ceremony in the city.
Following Watkin’s death, Sebastian Vettel dedicated his Singapore Grand Prix win to the professor.
Two-time world champion Vettel said: “I’d like to dedicate today’s win to Professor Sid Watkins. It’s thanks to his safety work that we can race on circuits like this.”