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F1 set to pay emotional tribute to Prof Watkins in Singapore
Posted By:   |  20 Sep 2012   |  5:09 pm GMT  |  25 comments

The FIA has announced that there is to be a number of tributes in place for the late Professor Sid Watkins, F1’s legendary doctor including a bronze bust, book of Remembrance and a minute’s applause, at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. Although there have been suggestions that this may be revised to a minute’s silence.

Formula One is also set to mark the passing of the Prof with the bronze bust, which was commissioned for him following retirement from his role as FIA Institute Honorary President, to be sat alongside a Book of Remembrance throughout the weekend allowing all those that have met the former FIA Doctor to leave their memories. The book will then be handed to the Watkins family in due course. The FIA is to announce a more permanent tribute to the Prof at a later date.

The main tribute this weekend will be the minute’s applause, taking place on the starting grid prior to Sunday’s Grand Prix. It will be the first time that the F1 fraternity has been together since the Prof’s death and the weekend is already filled with mixed emotions, with fantastic stories and memories of the great man.

In his time, the Prof saved the lives of many, including Nigel Mansell, Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen. But it was in response to the drivers who lost their lives that he drastically changed motor sport for the better. Alterations to both cars and circuits to improve safety have reverberated throughout motor sport from the grass roots to this weekends Grand Prix and the Prof’s death will be felt through all of these levels.

Meanwhile some of the drivers have paid tribute to the Prof today here in Singapore, “I have extremely good memories in the professional and person sides with him,” said Michael Schumacher today, “He was close to me in some of my difficult moments, such as the accident in 1999. But even more with all the FIA background work for safety improvements, Sid was one of the major driving forces and always looking for support in trying to achieve the goals that were needed. In particular after 1994 when we lost two of our friends. For him this was a big motivation to do what he had wanted to do for many years.”

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Silences are for tragedies, Sid was a happy, jovial character who lives a full life, so, a celebration is more appropriate. We seem to do silences at the drop of a hat these days and they have lost their value a little. Ask the drivers, let them lead the tribute.


In an ideal world, I’d like to see every car on the grid started up and revved whilst the crowd cheered and clapped and did whatever else they want to make some noise in appreciation of The Prof.

He was a character of the sport and would of appreciated a unique tribute.

Sid deserves a one off.


I think a minutes silence is more appropiate. To bring such a loud sport to complete silence would mean more than making more noise if you ask me. Also when it’s a minutes silence you find people actually stop what they are doing, take notice and observe the time and usually think about the person.


I hope (and I am sure this is the case) that the many clever minds in the F1 fraternity are busy working out the details of a more permanent tribute to this remarkable man.

However I feel I need to ‘vent’ a little about something I’ve been reading in various publications since the man’s death. It seems customary to list the lives of people he ACTIVELY saved. That he saved these drivers is unquestionable. However, in my opinion the real contribution of the man to F1, is that he saved countless more lives, because of the changes he made. These were perhaps less impressive, because they didn’t involve an on-site tracheotomy, but they are no less important.

He saved the life of Fernando Alonso just this year, in Spa. No, he wasn’t the medic who got to the driver, but he was the man who got the teams to beef up the cockpit sides. People seem to forget that before Senna died, we could actually see most drivers’ shoulders, in the car. Even with the current cars, Alonso’s head got awfully close to a wheel and various pieces of bodywork. But is anyone in any doubt that the cockpit walls saved him from actual contact (and given the speeds involved, death)?

Have people already forgotten that horrible accident in the A1-Ring, a few years back, when an out-of-control car (Jordan?) came back into the track and straight onto the first-lap gaggle of cars? Or the nearly identical incident in Monza last year? Brundle’s accident in 1996? Wurz’s multiple-roll accident in Canada, the following year? Various cases where cars ‘t-boned’ each other, or where one car ‘mounted’ another?

There were no serious injuries in any of these accidents, let alone deaths. The doc’s hands-on work at the scene of many accidents gets all the praise it deserves, but there is no doubt in my mind that he saved many times more lives, without using a scalpel.

It annoys me that people list the names of drivers he tended to, on various tracks, because to some people’s minds this seems to imply that the drivers he saved can be measured so easily. I really don’t think that’s fair on the man.


Remind me, when did Prof Watkins save Nigel Mansell’s life?


The Prof called him a ****ing idiot! Amounts to the same thing – he’s still alive ain’t he? 😉


And I dont think Dr Watkins can take credit for the track-side tracheotomy on Mika in Adelaide in 1995. A local doctor did it before the medical car got there.

Not that I’m trying to belittle his tremendous work in F1.

I will applaude for a minute on Sunday in my lounge-room too,


I’ve seen a few mentions that Dr Watkins restarted Mika’s heart twice after the Adelaide accident. Credit due for that.


Every F1 track should be required to have a corner named “Watkins”.


60 second applause and the great man to be put on screens throughout the track, also some words from Barrichello, Hakkinen, Schumacher and Mansell would be awesome


We have heard so much about ‘legacy’ over the past few weeks in the UK. However, if anyone needs to see an example of this, then look no further than our countless heroes of motorsport who owe their lives to the Prof. Future generations will also note what he did for safety. RIP.


A minutes applause is great. While the F1 world will miss him his death is no great tragedy of a man in his prime. We should look back and celebrate his life and achievements. Agreed about 60 seconds clapping ring hard to sustain though!


First ever post for me on JA-F1 but for me a fitting tribute maybe rather than the standard warm up lap how about a lap behind the doctor car with applause the whole lap then the doctor car peels in and the standard proceedure begins?


Wouldn’t that be a great and emotional sight!

All I know is that Silverstone better get it’s act in gear and have something done for next year’s GP (a corner, a statue, a trust fund etc). To do anything less would be disgraceful in the man’s home country.

Let’s have a team/driver auction of gear and get a medical trust set-up in the guy’s name with Bernie doubling the proceeds.


Thanks for your post


It’s hard to applaud for 60 seconds without it becoming ‘false’, whereas silence allows time for one’s personal memories.


Only if those applauding don’t mean it. A tribute of silence can easily be ruined by those around you not respecting it while a round of applause can not – and in this case, not many of those in the audience will have “personal memories”. Each to his own, but in this case I think the applause is a great idea.

I don’t want to dwell on something that should have a line drawn under it, but there is a certain irony that this tribute, in whatever form, should be at the track where Piquet Jr crashed on purpose to help his team win a race – a situation only conceivable due to the advances that the Prof brought to the safety of motorsport.


Totally agree…. unless there is some visualisation, photos etc as happens on oscar night for the departed it looks flat… even on oscar night it is not continual applause


The FIA certainly need to revise the minute of applause to a minute of silence. Much more fitting for such a great man.


I think the applause is very positive and from what I have read about Sid Watkins a more suitable response than a silence when most people would not have memories to consider.


Why do you feel this way? It’s sad that he died, but it was not a tragic unexpected death. He lived a full life, longer than average life expectancy. The applause is obviously in recognition of his achievements.

What would you do if he was there at the GP to take a bow in front of the crowd? Would you stand there silently, or would you clap in appreciation of what he’s done for F1 safety? Exactly.


Agree or disagree it’s always good to debate with real F1 fans who care about the sport 🙂 That is something we have in common I feel!


I agree, applause is a great way to celebrate the man. This is how you usually mark achievement.

The only worry I have is that appluase is hard to sustain (especially as much of the crowd may well not know who or what they are appluading other than a picture on a big screen) – it’ll be horrible if the appluase trails out half way through.

Still, I’ll certainly be appluading from my living room.


Easy fix to this. Focus the cameras on the fans at the start, then after 5 seconds fade to a camera going up or down the grid. It should take about 50 seconds to move through all the cars on the grid with drivers and mechanics clapping continuously. It’s easy to ask them to keep this tribute dignified and proper. It will all be in the broadcast director’s hands to do this right.

Of course there will be fans that fade away over the period. Many who know will keep the tribute going like you and I even from a distance. It should be a tribute by fans, but mostly by the people on the grid who’s lives are safer thanks to his work. Would be nice if the drivers wore a band or a decal on their suits as well.

I remember all the cars paying tribute to Michael on Saturday in Brazil 2006 for his first retirement. I don’t see how this tribute to Sid Watkins could less important. I’m sure we’ll see nice surprises from the team, which will take about a minute to show us. That’s why I’m not concerned about the crowd fading out. I’m sure it will be a lovely minute done with class. I’m looking forward to it.

Glad there is something we agree on Wayne! 🙂


I think the applause idea is brilliant – it celebrates him, rather than just mourning him.

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