Last week, Formula 1 lost one of its most treasured personalities: Dr. Sid Watkins, affectionately known as Professor Sid or “Prof”, died at the age of 84. The long-time medical chief of the sport, Professor Sid treated many drivers and team personnel injured on the circuit — and worked tirelessly off the circuit to improve safety within motorsport. There is no telling how many lives he saved through his efforts and all of motorsport owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
In the midst of many heroic trackside efforts, one seems to stand out from the others. Professor Sid resuscitated but knew he could not save his friend and fellow safety champion Ayrton Senna. Senna, a driver for the Williams F1 team, died from head injuries sustained in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Through the movie “Senna” released last year, many throughout the world came to know Professor Sid as he shared memories of his friendship with Ayrton and also his experiences during the tragic afternoon at Imola. For many of us fans, losing Professor Sid last week was like living the loss of Senna all over again.
Professor Sid will be honored in ceremonies during this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. In addition there have been thousands of tributes through Formula 1 management, team personnel, drivers, journalists — and, of course, fans. Once again the huge community that is F1 has come together to mourn and to celebrate the life of a legend.
Yes, Professor Sid was a legend. His love for Formula 1 and for all of motorsport was legendary. And his contributions to them will live forever.
Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you.