Innovators recognised at Autosport Awards
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Dec 2012   |  8:34 am GMT  |  18 comments

Two innovators were honoured at the Autosport Awards last night as recipients of the Pioneering and Innovation Awards, sponsored by Tata Communications.

Professor Sid Watkins, who passed away earlier this year, was celebrated for his contribution to safety in F1 and motorsport generally via the FIA Medical Team.

1996 world champion Damon Hill was there to sum up Watkins and the Team’s contribution, “F1 has made incredible progress, and to see where it came from, and where it has now got to, is a testament to Sid’s incredible determination and work.”

“He was the last person you would want to see professionally, but the first person you’d just want to have a chat with.

Susan Watkins, the Prof’s widow, collected the award on behalf of the FIA Medical Team. She said, “Sid was an extraordinary man. In hospital they called him Saint Sid, and he transferred all that energy and determination to motorsport, as did the pioneers in that revolution, Louis Stanley and of course Sir Jackie Stewart.”

The Nissan Delta wing was also honoured; the idea of this innovative design, which competed at Le Mans this year, is to create a racing car which has dramatically reduced fuel consumption and low drag by having a narrow front track, low weight and a small capacity engine. The floor of the car creates the downforce, so that cornering speeds are comparable with normal racing cars of LMP2 level.

Designer Ben Bowlby was there to collect the award, “We set out purely to burn half the fuel of a contemporary Le Mans car but have similar performance, and through halving the mass and the drag, we did that,” he said.

You can read all about the key technical Innovations during this F1 season, among other stories, in the JA on F1 2012 yearbook – The Year of Living Dangerously, which is published on December 7th priced at £10.99; it’s a 256 page large format paperback with stunning Darren Heath images and signed copies are available to order via our online shop now.

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So, this Nissan Delta Wing is a ground effect car?

I wish ground effect was not disallowed from F1. Combine ground effect with today’s standard of conventional aerodynamic downforce. The better a car sticks to the road, the faster it goes through turns, the more G’s it pulls. This would really test the athleticism of the drivers, bringing back an element of driver fatigue which would add another factor to the racing in this era of ultra super-fit drivers (compared to previous decades).


I’d expect the wings to be safer if the car goes off track, since the downforce isn’t entirely lost in a split second when the car leaves the track. I wonder if this had something to do with it being outlawed, or if it was more to do with the driver not being able to handle the g-loads. I remember reading an article a few years back where Patrick Head was saying that they were starting to look into g-suits to pressurize the drivers body to keep them conscious.


On a sidenote about williams, do they use the kers system they developed or do they use Renaults?


James, are you doing your TOP 5 drivers article this year? Last year you invited us readers to create our own top 5 list, and if it matches yours, one can win your book.


Yes. Coming up soon..


I ordered a copy already, but it still a nice game 🙂


Nissan Deltawing defines ‘innovation’ –

sadly that endeavour is lacking in F1


I’m disappointed with Button being given the British award over Hamilton and others. Half of the season he was unheard of anywhere near the top and did well only in the first and last few races. Hamilton with some flawless driving through out the season, but due to reliability issues and pit-crew mistakes missed the WDC fight only in the end while Button was not in it for quite a few races. Even with issues under not his control, Hamilton ended up with more points than Button. The only excuse Button gave was that the car was not to his liking, well if Hamilton could drive it well for the full season, then nothing fundamentally wrong with the car itself – which only shows the narrow operability window of Button. That makes Hamilton’s case for the award much more stronger than Button’s. Why was he not given the award? I do not follow the other kinds of races, so cannot comment about the other British contenders. But surely this was not Button’s season just as last year it was not Hamilton’s and for which Button got the award rightfully.


i totally agree with you and am scratching my head too. the only explanation seems to lie with people liking jenson more than lewis for whatever reasons ( i have my suspicions what some could be) but i thought it was a driving award not a popularity one.

you have to wonder if lewis wasn’t right with his ali g comment.


Jenson was the biggest winner this year, Mercedes second biggest winner. Hamilton was the big loser this year if you get my drift.

Del Boys Uncle Albert

The Delta Wing looks more like a racing sidecar outfit to me than a car. I bet it could smash the Isle of Man TT lap record if they changed the front two wheels for just one wide wheel.

It also must be one of the most ugly cars I have ever seen, it may be eco friendly but would you save up for years to buy one?

I can imagine the Reliant Robin jokes if you drove up to the golf club in a road going version. Yes I know about Morgans but they have the decency two look cool, this does not but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say.


Delta Wing; something wild in an era of increasingly homogenised racing cars. Sid Watkins, a giant. And… it’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone say anything positive about Louis Stanley. He generally gets hammered by people who were there and or knew him, so, I guess that’s a nice change!


Re: The Nissan Delta wing – Saw film of it at Road Atlanta. Had a nice Batmobile black color/look to it. But it showed why a “tripod” is not the most stable of designs. It was side-swiped by another car and rather than spinning, landed on its side.



I think the key reason it got hit is because other drivers underestimate the size of the rear.

Both of the major accidents so far seem to be a result of this and could be one of the major issues with the design

Otherwise, I love it


The Delta Wing got taken out of the Le Mans 2012 race by the no 7 Toyota. It was hit side-hit and sent into the barriers. It didn’t flip on its side..

I love the design.


What a legend Sid is, I don’t well up easy, but when he talks about the moment he got on the scene at Imola with Senna, I can’t holdback a tear or two, especially after he’d revealed he’d told Senna to stop racing that weekend. He did so much for the sport, the lack of injuries to drivers in F1 is hugely down to him!!


What a great design that Delta wing is. I watched a race – I think it was at Watkins Glenn in October and it finished 2nd in Its class & 4th or 5 th overall- which is fantastic for a new a new team and new design and I think it was only the second time it had ever been raced with no break downs or problems.


It SHOULD have been the new Indycar instead of the chosen horror-shows.

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