Bernie Ecclestone believes there will never be another figure in Formula 1 like Sid Watkins, after expressing his heartfelt appreciation for the efforts that he made to improve safety in the sport.
Speaking for the first time since Watkins passed away, Ecclestone said that everyone within grand prix racing owed the former F1 medical delegate for all he had done during nearly 30 years of service.
"I am pretty sure that he is irreplaceable," said Ecclestone, who originally invited Watkins to become a permanent feature of F1 back in 1978. "You only meet somebody of his caliber once in your lifetime."
He added: "What Sid Watkins did in the way of safety in Formula 1 was incredible. He gave his whole life to that cause, to make sure that it could be as safe as it possibly could be. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his caring and commitment."
Ecclestone said that he fully supported the demands that Watkins imposed on medical facilities at tracks, which included helicopters and intervention vehicles.
"When I invited him to join Formula 1 as its official doctor partway through the 1978 season, we discussed many aspects of safety and medical issues," he said. "We agreed that we needed a proper hospital at the track in the form of a fully equipped medical center to stabilize injured drivers with immediate treatment, and a helicopter to transport them subsequently to specialist facilities, and that the helicopter pad had to be as close to that trackside hospital as possible.
"Sid carried all of those things through, and many more. After the accidents to Jochen Rindt and then Ronnie Peterson, I suggested that he should have a medical intervention car and that he should take responsibility for taking drivers into medical care.
"We always talked things through and worked together, and he then took care of all the medical things, which I knew nothing about."