Professor Eric Sidney 'Sid' Watkins, the world-renowned F1 medic who was instrumental in the pursuits to improve driver safety in the sport, has passed away after suffering from a short illness, aged 84.
Affectionately known by his peers as the 'Prof', Watkins was one of the major medical practitioners in the sport for over thirty years, and is often accredited with the raft of safety improvements that has made the sport a far less dangerous one than it was less than twenty years ago.
Despite sharing duties with a full-time role at Whitechapel Hospital in London, Watkins was one of the key members of the trackside medical crew from 1978 to 2004, and remained onwards as a medical delegate until he retired from the FIA Institute (though remained an Honorary Member) in 2011.
Throughout his career as a Formula One medic, Watkins was responsible for providing assistance and, in some cases, saving the lives of many high-profile crash victims during his tenure – former F1 racing drivers such as Erik Comas, Gerhard Berger, Nelson Piquet, Didier Peroni, Rubens Barrichello, Martin Brundle, Mika Hakkinen, Martin Donnelley and Karl Wendlinger.
Most know of Watkins, though, as the medic who formed a very close friendship with three-times World Champion Ayrton Senna, which would last until the Brazilian racing driver's death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, just one day after Watkins advised Senna to "give it up and go fishing" after the death of Roland Ratzenberger.
After Senna's passing, then-FIA President Max Mosely appointed Watkins as the chairman of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee (known today as the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety) – a role he held until 2004 -, and as such was one of the driving forces behind the introduction of various bits of safety legislation into the Formula One rule book.
Since then, there have been no driver fatalities in Formula One.
In an official statement made by the Watkins family, a private family funeral will be held for him in Scotland, along with a memorial service in London, details of which will be announced in the coming days.
Our condolences are with Sid Watkins' friends and family, during this undoubtedly very difficult time.
Rest In Peace, Sid Watkins. We'll never forget you or your contribution to motorsport safety, and we're hoping that, up there right now, you're now having that long overdue fishing trip with Ayrton Senna.