Professor Sid Watkins, F1’s medical supremo for almost three decades, died this week at the age of 84.

It’s fair to say that he probably contributed more than anybody to advancing the cause of motor racing safety during that time. So when McLaren chairman Ron Dennis said yesterday that Sid’s passing meant that the sport had lost “one of its true greats”, there was not an ounce of exaggeration implicit in those words.

I was first introduced to Sid on a flight from Gatwick to Amsterdam on my way to covering the 1979 Dutch GP at Zandvoort and instantly hit it off with this highly respected international neuro-surgeon who practised at the London Hospital in Whitechapel Road.