Professor Sid Watkins,the F1 doctor who tended to Ayrton Senna after his fatal crash at Imola in 1994 and who saved the lives of countless others through his work on safety,has died at the age of 84.
As word spread around F1 of his death late on Wednesday,confirmed by a source close to the family,tributes poured in from drivers and all whose lives were touched by the wise-cracking neurosurgeon with a love of cigars and whisky.
They included Brazilian Rubens Barrichello,who suffered a huge crash on the same San Marino Grand Prix weekend that claimed the lives of Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger. It was Sid Watkins that saved my life in Imola 94. great guy to be with,always happy…tks for everything u have done for us drivers. RIP, Barrichello said on Twitter to 1.7 million followers.
Senna remains the last driver fatality in an F1 race and much of the credit for the survival of others can be laid at the door of Watkins,known simply as Prof by paddock regulars and Sid by closer friends.
Northern Irelands Martin Donnelly,Finlands double champion Mika Hakkinen,Austrian Gerhard Berger and F1 team founder Frank Williams all owed much to his quick response and care after life-threatening accidents.