Not many people have had an impact on Formula 1 quite like Professor Sid Watkins. First at the scene of an accident and the last word on driver safety, ‘The Prof’ helped save countless lives at the race track, and himself lives on through the 2016 Sid Watkins Scholarship.
Set up by the FIA Institute, a not-for-profit organisation that develops and improves motor sport safety and sustainability, the scholarship is a fully funded position that will enable the successful applicant to conduct research and engineering projects with the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety SA, the FIA Institute’s research partner based in Switzerland.
The FIA as well as the FIA Foundation are part-funding the scheme, too, giving anyone who has recently completed – or are about to complete their studies in engineering or medicine – the perfect launch pad into the professional world.
It’s certainly a better leg up than the one Watkins had to make do with. Shadowed by the Great Depression of the 1930s, Watkins worked at his dad’s Merseyside garage, ahead of his graduation from the University of Liverpool as a Doctor of Medicine in 1956. His first foray trackside came at a kart event at Brand Hatch in 1961, prior to years of further study and medical assistance at racetracks across the UK. After a meeting with a certain Bernie Ecclestone in 1978, Watkins was made the Official F1 Doctor, and held his position for 27 years.
Sameer Patel, who won the inaugural scholarship last year, has since worked on a number of high profile projects, including safety developments in Formula One, World Rally and Formula E. He was recently rewarded for his hard work with an extension to his contract.
Patel said: “This scholarship has been an incredible opportunity for me to work at the highest levels of motor sport and to contribute to one of its most important areas, safety. I would recommend it to any engineering graduate with a passion for motor sport.”
FIA Institute President Professor Gérard Saillant added: “The first year of the Watkins Scholarship has been a great success and we are delighted to open the process again this year. We hope the successful candidate will help to continue the important work of Professor Watkins in the field of motor sport safety.
the scholarship is a fully funded position that will enable the successful applicant to conduct research and engineering projects with the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety SA, the FIA Institute’s research partner based in Switzerland.
It’s impossible to state just how many lives and careers Watkins helped save, but it goes without saying that Formula 1 would have been, would be, and will be a poorer place without his contribution to safety. Building on that is this scholarship – a golden opportunity to continue the Prof’s tireless work.
To apply for the 2016 Sid Watkins Scholarship, click here. Be quick though, the deadline for applications is Monday 4rd July!