Today, Formula 1 racing is the pinnacle of motorsports. Championship drivers are treated like gods, automobile manufacturers gain massive profits based on the outcomes of their teams (more specifically their cars) in the races, and most technologies in the car you drive has trickled down from years of F1 R&D. For almost 20 years, F1 racing has also been one of the safest motorsports in terms of casualty rate. Not a single driver has died in a Formula 1 race since the late great Ayrton Senna in 1994.
While improved technology and better driver training has something to do with the increased safety, much of the credit has to go to Dr. Sid Watkins. An English neurosurgeon who served as the FIA’s chief medical delegate for more than 26 years. Starting his motorsport medical career in 1978, Dr. Watkins joined F1 when it was at its peak of driver injuries and deaths. But using his larger than life influence, he was the driving force behind many of the safety advancements in Formula 1 racing. A total of 36 drivers have died in F1 racing since its inception, but thanks to “The Prof’s” focus on minimizing driver injury risk, the sport has come a long way since the tragic deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger.
Sid Watkins passed away last week with complications of cancer at the age of 84. Having given more than a quarter century of service to improving the safety of Formula 1, the doctor, professor, and icon Sid Watkins has saved more lives in the thrilling spectacle, than possibly can be counted. For that reason, we here at Mojo Motors would like to pay our respect to a true hero and car guy.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” -Albert Einstein