Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tradgedy in Formula One by Professor Sid Watkins

Professor Watkins is the official doctor for the Formula One Grand Prix circus as it travels the world. He has had this role since the late seventies and his involvement in motorsport medicine goes back even longer. Without the fame accruing from this, he would still be recognised as an eminent neurosurgeon. Fans, drivers and officials alike recognise his role.

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My rating

Ten out of ten. This really is a wonderful book and is a must read for any motorsport fan.

My Review

In this book, the Professor tells the story of his involvement in Formula One racing. He covers the years from 1978 to 1994 with a few notes about the following year. The book treads a path between autobiography and history or documentary.

My first comment about this book is that it is well written and a really enjoyable read. Of course, the author covers the many accidents which he has attended in his work. Beyond that, he writes about the personalities involved and also the process by which the current high standards of medical care have been introduced into the sport.

In that latter area, one character stands out. It is clear that without the force of Bernie Ecclestone behind them, many of the improvements to medical care would not have taken place. The two men each understand their own and the others job and they do not get in each others way and trust each other immensly.

Reading parts such as the description of the death of Gilles Villeneuve brought a tear to my eye. Other parts, such as the tale of Gerhard Berger testing the indestructability of Ayrton Senna's new carbon fibre briefcase has me laughing out loud.