Longtime F1 medical chief Watkins dies at 84

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LONDON (AP) -- Sid Watkins, the former Formula One medical chief who was credited with saving the lives of several race drivers, has died. He was 84.

F1 team officials and Watkins' family said the English neurosurgeon died Wednesday.

Watkins was at the forefront of F1 safety for 26 years, serving as the series' medical delegate from 1978 to 2004.

As a trackside doctor, he was credited with helping save the lives of several drivers after heavy crashes. They included two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello. Watkins tended to Ayrton Senna after his fatal crash at Imola in 1994.

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis says "it's probably fair to say he did more than anyone, over many years, to make Formula One as safe as it is today."