‘F1 owes Watkins debt of gratitude’

'F1 owes Watkins debt of gratitude'

Bernie Ecclestone has paid tribute to former F1 doctor Sid Watkins, saying you “only meet somebody of his calibre once in your lifetime.”

Ecclestone was responsible for bringing Watkins into Formula One and in a career spanning 25 years ‘The Prof’ saved countless lives.

Although some may remember him as the doctor who tended to Ayrton Senna after his fatal crash, Watkins is best known in motorsport for his efforts to improve safety.

“What Sid Watkins did in the way of safety in Formula One was incredible,” Ecclestone told the official F1 website.

“He gave his whole life to that cause, to make sure that it could be as safe as it possibly could be. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his caring and commitment.

“I am pretty sure that he is irreplaceable. You only meet somebody of his calibre once in your lifetime.”

Speaking about the the English neurosurgeon’s accomplishments in F1, Ecclestone added: “When I invited him to join Formula One as its official doctor partway through the 1978 season, we discussed many aspects of safety and medical issues.

“We agreed that we needed a proper hospital at the track in the form of a fully equipped medical centre to stabilise injured drivers with immediate treatment, and a helicopter to transport them subsequently to specialist facilities, and that the helicopter pad had to be as close to that trackside hospital as possible.

“Sid carried all of those things through, and many more. After the accidents to Jochen Rindt and then Ronnie Peterson, I suggested that he should have a medical intervention car and that he should take responsibility for taking drivers into medical care.

“We always talked things through and worked together, and he then took care of all the medical things which I knew nothing about.”

Source: Planet F1.com

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