The word legacy has been bandied around for the past few weeks thanks to the hosting of the Olympics in London. If you want to see what "legacy" is all about, you can look no further than the effect Sid Watkins had on F1 from the period of 1978 to 2004, and even to the present day. The great man passed away on September 14th, after a heart attack. He was 84.
In his time in charge as Safety and Medical Delegate of the sport, the changes Watkins made saved the lives of Martin Donnelly, Gerhard Berger, Erik Comas, Rubens Barrichello, Karl Wendlinger and Mika Hakkinen, to only name only a few in Formula One. Countless lives have been saved thanks to the improvement of medical facilities at racetracks, as well as the introduction of Medical Cars and Air Ambulances.
Known for his sense of humour and wit, when asked by Mercedes-Benz on how to improve the Medical Car, he responded with "adding a drinks cabinet for whisky and a humidor of cigars."
How far safety has changed since the '70's can clearly be seen on the podium for last weekend's Italian Grand Prix. The three drivers eliminated in a horror crash at Spa – Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso – all suffered no ill effects and raced 7 days later, all making the rostrum.
Thank you Sid. RIP.
Photo courtesy of the Cahier Archive.