Book Review: Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One by Professor Sid Watkins

 

 
Overview
 

Title: Life at the Limit
 
Author: Professor Sid Watkins
 
Photography: Various
 
Publisher: MacMillan
 
ISBN: 0-333-65774-8
 
Year/Edition: 1996
 
# of pages: 258
 
Photos: 18 b&w; 15 colour
 
Cover: Hardcover
 
Size: 15.5cm (W) x 23cm (L) x 2.5cm (thick)
 
Weight: around 555g
 
Author:
 
Publisher:
 
Narration
 
 
 
 
 


 
Visuals
 
 
 
 
 


 
Appeal
 
 
 
 
 


 
Total Score
 
 
 
 
 


User Rating
44 total ratings

 

Positives


Insight into some of F1's high profile accidents

Negatives


Showing its age a little


2
Posted September 13, 2012 by

 
Full Article
 
 

With the passing of legendary F1 medico, Professor Sid Watkins, I had to dust off my ragged copy of his 1996 book Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One for a quick re-read. This book is an interesting account of F1 from a very different perspective of the development of driver safety over the years and of course, Watkins own first hand experience dealing with famous driver injuries and fatalities.

Watkins offers his own personal views and fond memories of drivers from the 70s (Andretti, Lauda, Scheckter, Hunt, Gilles Villeneuve, Brambilla), 80’s (Piquet, Prost, Berger, Mansell, Rosberg) and the 90’s (Hakkinen, Herbert, Schumacher, Barrichello, Senna).

The first chapter opens with Senna’s crash at Imola and Watkins explaining the accident scene and the hospital events. Next up, Ronnie Peterson’s post accident complications at Monza in ’78. Reading his recount of Senna’s, Peterson’s and Gilles’ deaths and the accidents of Pironi, Frank Williams, Martin Donnelly and Mikka Hakkinen though is almost like watching an episode of ER.

Fortunately the book isn’t completely morbid and sad. Watkins offers his own personal views and fond memories of drivers from the 70s (Andretti, Lauda, Scheckter, Hunt, Gilles Villeneuve, Brambilla), 80’s (Piquet, Prost, Berger, Mansell, Rosberg) and the 90’s (Hakkinen, Herbert, Schumacher, Barrichello, Senna). Its obvious that Senna and Watkins were close.

Another interesting read is his views of his favourite circuits and the ones he was most worried about such as Monaco.

The book’s appendices are also different – There are some sample FIA medical forms if that kind of thing excites you but Appendix 1 contains a fascinating comparison of Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve’s pulse measurements at Fiorano, Monaco and Le Mans. The Pironi-Villeneuve rivalry will never go away…

Since posting this review, I’ve noticed that the prices of used 2nd hand copies of this title seem to have sky rocketed.

Wow Factor or the Money Shot: Not many photos but as you would expect quite a few crash photos – none of Senna but the Lotus of Martin Donnelly disintegrating in Jerez ’90 is disturbing even to this day.

 

Suitable for: Knowledgeable F1 fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


f1nut

 


2 Comments


  1.  

    An important record of Professor Sid Watkins contribution to F1, although one can never allow this to overshadow Jackie Stewart’s late 60’s and early 70’s input which started to make F1 look at itself more objectively.




  2.  
     
     
     
     
     

    Hey there! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas!

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