Formula 1
Formula 1
29 Aug
-
01 Sep
Event finished
05 Sep
-
08 Sep
Event finished
19 Sep
-
22 Sep
Event finished
26 Sep
-
29 Sep
Event finished
10 Oct
-
13 Oct
Event finished
Motorsport Blog
Topic

Motorsport Blog

Legendary F1 doctor Sid Watkins Honoured with hospital building

shares
comments
Legendary F1 doctor Sid Watkins Honoured with hospital building
Oct 21, 2014, 12:17 PM

Professor Sid Watkins OBE, the Liverpool neurosurgeon who revolutionised motor sport medical care, has been given a permanent tribute with the nami...

Professor Sid Watkins OBE, the Liverpool neurosurgeon who revolutionised motor sport medical care, has been given a permanent tribute with the naming of a hospital building in his home town.

The 'Prof' as he was affectionately known to generations of grateful F1 drivers, passed away in 2012 having been at the forefront of F1 safety for more than 30 years. Now his pioneering work in medicine has been given a permanent memorial in Liverpool.

Professor Watkins has been recognised by specialist neuroscience hospital The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, with the naming of the Sid Watkins Building. The new three-storey building which will open in January 2015, will house the Trust’s complex rehabilitation unit; pain management programme and medical training facilities; and Mersey Care’s brain injuries unit.

Formula 1 Grand Prix, England, Practice

Welcoming the naming of the building, three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart said: “Professor Sid Watkins was one of the greatest men of medicine that I have ever encountered. His dedication to constantly finding new ways of doing things, to give people another chance to enjoy life, was a huge asset to both the world of medicine and to those who were fortunate enough to have his help and talent to provide life.

“Professor Watkins’ contribution to saving the lives of many people in motorsport will never be forgotten and it’s absolutely appropriate that this new development will assist in ensuring that Professor Sid Watkins will be remembered forever, by the naming of this excellent facility in his honour.”

The idea for a Liverpool-based tribute to the Prof originated with the Aintree Circuit Club, founded in 1954 alongside the opening of the Aintree Grand Prix Circuit, which hosted the British GP in the 1950s and 1960s. The club is still active today.

AT, F1, Dr. Sid Watkins

The dedication of the building comes at a time when the topic of safety in Formula One has once again taken centre stage in the wake of Jules Bianchi's accident at the Japanese Grand Prix. Much of Watkins' contribution to medical care and safety in F1 is now taken for granted having been revolutionary when first introduced.

The eminent neurosurgeon had volunteered at motorsports events for many years before Bernie Ecclestone invited him to become  Formula One's first permanent race doctor in 1978 and within months Watkins witnessed the accident at the Italian Grand Prix which proved fatal for Sweden's Ronnie Peterson.

The inadequacy of the medical response in Peterson's accident prompted Watkins to demand more staff and better medical equipment at each race including a helicopter and a properly equipped medical car following the field around the first lap of the race.

Watkins was soon a familiar figure at races and many drivers had cause to be grateful to the man who still plied his trade as a pioneering neurosurgeon in London between F1 races.

The fatal accidents to Roland Ratzenberger and Watkins' good friend Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix prompted the creation of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee with Watkins as its chairman.

Less than a year later the swift intervention of Watkins and two other doctors following Mika Hakkinen's practice accident at the Australian Grand Prix saved the Finnish driver's life and gave Watkins one of his proudest moments in the sport.

He initiated trackside medical care at every F1 race and in testing, along with providing state-of-the-art medical buildings and equipment. In addition, a corps of medical and surgical experts were incorporated into Watkins’ safety concept, so that injured drivers, circuit personnel and even spectators now receive the best possible medical care at circuits around the globe.

Watkins ultimately became President of the FIA Institute of Motor Sport Safety, a role that allowed him to guide research in the design of racing cars and circuits as well as drivers' equipment - among other innovations - all with the aim of improving safety.

Outside of motorsport Watkins was an innovative surgeon who pioneered several frontiers in his specialty, including brain and spine stimulation, the surgery of pain and Parkinson's disease, as well as trauma.

He was also fundamental to the development of the Royal London Hospital's helicopter emergency service and the first emergency brain scanning unit, both of which were subsequently mirrored at other major hospitals.

“My husband would have been proud to know that his name has been attached to this rehabilitation facility, both its calibre and scope reflect his own attitudes to patient care, and his concern for the ongoing needs of those who suffer from neurological diseases and injuries requiring long-term treatment," said Mrs Susan Watkins. "In this way it is a reflection of his life's work and, in a sense, brings him home to his roots in Liverpool.”
Next article
Total president killed in plane crash

Previous article

Total president killed in plane crash

Next article

Struggling Caterham in race to send cars to Austin

Struggling Caterham in race to send cars to Austin
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1