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Life At The Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One [Kindle Edition]

Sid Watkins , Niki Lauda
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It's pretty rare to come across a motor racing book that tempts you to read the thing in one sitting but "Prof" Watkins has produced a gem ... [he] is a superb raconteur, not afraid to speak him mind yet peppering the gravity with occasionally side-splitting humour. No true motorsport fan should be without this book.'

Autosport Grand Prix racing has undergone sweeping changes in the last thirty years. Many of these involve safety and medical rescue. The man behind them - a champion in the racing world although he has never won a race - is the eminent neurosurgeon Sid Watkins. Life at the Limit is his remarkable story.

It spans the most exciting years in Grand Prix racing and includes intimate portraits of motorsport's greatest names, from Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda to Alain Prost and Damon Hill. Sid Watkins has also witnessed, at first hand, some of the most severe and spectacular racing accidents. His account of these is made all the more poignant by the fact that some of the men he has rescued, sometimes at the point of death, have been personal friends. From Monza, in 1978, where Ronnie Petersen suffered a fatal accident, to Imola in May 1994 where Ayrton Senna met his untimely death, the high, and low, points of Grand Prix racing are vividly described.

For all fans of Formula One, this is the inside story of the world's most dangerous sport.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2332 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,445 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's earned respect, never demanded it. 7 Sept. 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Viewing Grand Prix motor racing through the wonderfully perceptive eyes of Professor Watkins means that anyone interested in the sport should read this excellent account. Obviously respected, often revered by those with whom he works, he gives vivid and sometimes moving recollections spanning the many years of his involvement. Humour and pathos make regular appearances; his dry wit, an essential tool of his trade perhaps, serves to punctuate what is essentially a serious book. His incisive précis of drivers from the last three decades makes for compulsive reading, the character analyses are intriguing and revealing. Undoubtedly a pivotal character in the world of Formula One, the professor has been instrumental in saving many lives. However, he's also witnessed intimately the consequences of appalling accidents in which lives were lost. He is perhaps uniquely qualified to commentate on the sport, his dedication and professionalism making him a hero in this modern amphitheatre which now embraces the globe. Superbly readable. Once is not enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any F1 fan 2 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My family are steeped in motor racing - my parents were both amateur rally drivers back in 'the day' (i.e. the 60s - lots of silverware in the attic!) and I virtually grew up at Silverstone at club meetings over Bank Holiday weekends (we only lived an hour away when I was growing up) and my first visit, apparently, was when I was two weeks old! We are all keen drivers, learning as children thrashing cars round fields on private land, and even now in my 40s I drive for relaxation or just for fun (although since moving to Jersey 23 years ago my opportunities to go very far are limited!). I grew up hearing my father eulogise Jim Clark - in an age, in the early 70s, when many people's first though to do with British F1 drivers were either Stirling Moss (who my father never rated) or Jackie Stewart (definitely rated!) this 'Jim Clark' seemed to lead to a lot of blank faces among my friends! I first got into F1 seriously in 1980 when I was 12/13, and my favourite driver (I cut out all the pictures from 'Motoring News' and stuck them on my bedroom wall!) was Keke Rosberg. Oh, how old do I feel watching Nico now!!

But, to put a serious angle on it, the early days, up to the mid-70s especially, were dangerous times for F1. Anyone whose seen the awful footage of Tom Pryce's death, or Roger Williamson's, won't need convincing of that. But F1 was un-regulated in terms of safety and anyone who spoke out or tried to change things (step forward again, Sir Jackie) was branded a coward by many other drivers, team owners and circuit managers (and the latter of course, would have to spend money to implement any safety changes).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another world Champion 27 Sept. 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you like your F1 and have a favourite driver then you'll probably be able to carry on supporting the driver for longer because of the work of this man. Not only has he been able to make F1 safer but he can write too. An interesting story well recounted. I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any motorsport fan 1 May 2000
By John Peter O'connor VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
In this book, he 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 had me laughing out loud.
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Sid Watkins 'The Prof' has done more for F1 driver safety than probably any other man alive. An eminent Neurological surgeon, Sid was the man in the medical car that all loved but none hoped to see in F1! This is an interesting story of the development of safety in F1 from the beginning, when there was none to speak of (apart from other drivers & kind spectators mostly!), to the aftermath of Imola and the multiple rush of changes (Not all of them good, or wise, and what Senna himself would have hated - such as the changes at Eau Rouge in Spa which were just sacrilege!) following the death of the late, great Ayrton Senna (to whom Sid was a great friend and paternal figure. The pages on his attendance of his friend at the fatal crash are incredibly sad and difficult but show a unique professionalism).

The story is never boring and the serious business of F1 safety, and the battles for it, is broken by funny, witty observations of great races, racers and what they get up to when they're off track. Senna, Villeneuve, Rosberg, Prost, de Angelis, Mansell, Berger, Stewart, etc., all ripple through the stories in funny anecdotes and nostalgia to lighten the darker moments.

If you're looking for gore and crash stories, don't read this. It details F1's darker moments with honest sensitivity and an objective observational professional distance as you would expect from such a great man and strong personality. As an F1 fan, I enjoyed this, and non-fans of motorsport might enjoy it for the human stories throughout.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by Jerome Mallein
5.0 out of 5 stars Not enough credit can be given for what Sid did ...
Not enough credit can be given for what Sid did for safety in the sport and attending to drivers (and marshals) in their time of need
Published 1 month ago by Mr. BERESFORD A BROOKE
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight.
Interesting (and shocking and surprising) insight into F1 medical cover and accidents over the years. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Roy
5.0 out of 5 stars I was fortunate to meet Prof Watkins on a number of occasions ...
A must read book in my opinion. I was fortunate to meet Prof Watkins on a number of occasions and his books not only provide a great insight into the safety revolution in F1, and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mark Gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent book
Published 3 months ago by kathleen foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank god for men like Sid in motor sport, behind the scenes to my memories.
Published 4 months ago by Jack Boon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fastenating insite into the background of Formula one Weekends. Couldn't put it down
Published 4 months ago by scoot123
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Now read both of Sid Watkins books(actually read them wrong way round I.e. second book first). This is an excellent book well written in a very light easy reading style. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nigel Boynton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great condition n great read too!
Published 7 months ago by HeatherHoney
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