Sid Watkins is a name that F1 felt safe with. He was the man when it came to crashes and calamities and certainly not being responsible for them. Helping save so many lives after high-speed collisions, Watkins was a safety pioneer in the world of racing motors and he is no more. F1 gets the jitters.
Watkins passed away at the age of 84. He had a huge role to play in advancing and improving safety measures in the sport and was associated with the F1 world for 25, dedicated years. He has helped save lives for racers like Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen.
In a statement released by the FIA President, Jean Todt, it said: “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.”
There used to be a time where injuries and catastrophes were all the more frequent in the sport. Safety measures were not as advanced and/or up to the mark and several fatal mishaps took place. At such a time Sid Watkins joined in, back in 1978, and revamped the security segment of the sport. From bringing in medical helicopter, to international standardized protocol, new and advanced security measures, Watkins made sure that the racers were scratch-free during and after the match. With new ideas, implementation of global safety techniques with the help of teams, circuits and professionals, Watkins made F1 a safer place to be.
He had long standing relationships with several drivers and most popular on his friendship with Brazilian driver Senna. Senna won the championship three times. During the year 1994 he got involved in a disastrous crash but was transferred to safe hands with Watkins. He was so attached to Senna that he several times asked him to quit the sport due to the risk factor involved.
Twitter accounts of drivers have been flooding in with condolences for Sid Watkins. Perhaps the drivers themselves can only truly understand how incredible Watkins’ contribution has been to the sport but for the rest of us it really is not difficult to recognize what it takes to save a life.