About Gary

Involved in motorsports medicine since 1990. Sid Watkin’s assistant from 1997-2004. Formula 1 Medical Delegate from 2005 to 2007, then Medical Rescue Coordinator for the Championship from 2008 until 2012. Anesthesiologist and Emergency Physician at the University Hospital of Liège, Belgium. Blogger since 2013, opinions strictly personal.

If you’ve got 45 minutes, check out Mario Muth’s video profile of me:

57 thoughts on “About Gary

    • It’s always great to see sports coming online with better and better protocols for managing the spectrum of head injury (and especially concussions) in competitive sports. And I’m immensely proud to have worked with Sid, with whom we started with what must have been, along with Steve Olvey and Terry Trammell in the USA, one of the earliest serious concussion protocols in all of professional sport.

  1. Hello Gary,what could you tell me and the World about Alonso’s accident in Melbourne? ,and what’s the deal with the chest scans performed in Sakhir this Thursday ? I hope is not the beginning of the end of Alonso’s career.
    Greetings from Patagonia Argentina.

  2. Good afternoon Hary,
    I am sure you have heard about the incident during F1 Sochi weekend, when after the race Carlos Sainz told the press that “he a was dizzy” before and in the early stages of the Russian Grand Prix. Would you be so kind and give your opinion whether he should have been allowed to race in the first place after such a big crash just day before?

  3. Hi Gary,

    I’m a journalism student at the University of Queensland and I’m writing a story on rally accidents and spectator safety (in particular, the recent FIA meetings). Would you be willing to comment on this at all?

    Thanks so much for your time,
    Grace

      • Thank you so much, I do have a few questions in mind if you wouldn’t mind answering them. Would you prefer if I emailed or called you at all? I’m happy to pass on my email address if that’s easier?

        Thank you again, and I’m also very sorry about my late reply!

  4. Hello Gary,
    I am curious to hear your opinion about the aftermath of the Sainz accident in Sochi. Carlos said, after the race, that he felt dizzy before he got in the car and during the first part of the race. I find that disturbing. Is this a case of proceedures, as they stand, not working, or is there an “acceptable” level of dizziness the medical staff will allow?
    Best wishes,
    John.

    • This IS interesting. These kind of tests will require lots of clinical validation, and we’ll need to understand the time course of the results. As mentioned in the article, once “point of care” testing is available, it might even become a valuable addition to on-scene evaluation. But remember, clinical examination by a skilled and experienced practitioner is the key . . . all the rest are additional tools in the toolbox.

  5. Hello Gary,

    i am long time follower and 1st time responder to your page/blog

    Are you going to write a blog on the events of the past 3 weeks?

    Kind regards
    David Lestrade

    • Hi David! Not sure exactly which events you’re referring to – but Jules Bianchi’s death isn’t something I was going to write anything more about. Donald Trump’s ascension into the Republican firmament is a source of great joy to me, but I’m loath to blog much about politics . . . or horses’ asses.

  6. Gary, would you ever be interested in coming back to Formula One? If the call ever came? Or do you feel like you have done your bit, played your part and Formula One is a closed chapter that won’t be re opened?

    • Hi George. Cool question.

      It’s been quite a while since I left Formula 1, and I’d like to think I’ve had lots of time to evolve.

      Long story short? I love my life now, and while my years in F1 have given me immense riches of memories, experiences and growth, I’m not sure I’d relish having two jobs again.

      I’d consider working in the sport again under the correct conditions. In terms of research, there’s still lots to be done, the medical side of the various ASN’s need as much support as possible, and a series of profound changes in trauma care that will soon become standard are going to have to be brought into practice at racing events. All this is a terrific and exciting challenge. That said, to be done properly, there has to be effective and transparent leadership at the top and the opportunity to actually accomplish what needs to be done.

  7. Hello Gary,

    In ’94 following the Ayrton Senna crash Prof Watkins stated that while at the track he could see from his neurological signs that Senna would die from a fatal head injury. What are these signs? Also, famously, Senna’s head twitched which I’m now led to believe is a sign of a massive head injury, is this correct?

    Thanks for your time.

    Steve

    • Hi Steve. The small movement of Ayrton’s head may have been a reflex, or may have been caused by something external.

      I’m loathe to discuss details of Ayrton’s accident, out of respect to both Ayrton’s as well as Sid’s memory. Sorry.

      • Thank you, Gary.

        I meant in general as opposed to Ayrton directly (although that was the context that made me wonder).

      • There are some early signs that would be associated with severe head injury, but they are of course not reliable enough to be used as prognostic or diagnostic indicators in the prehospital phase.

        Obviously if on initial (para)medical contact, the patient is deeply comatose, especially with two widely dilated pupils that don’t constrict when light is shined in them, one will usually rightly suspect very severe injury.

        A patient with exsanguinating hemorrhage from the nose or mouth after a head injury, especially when local causes are rapidly ruled out, often has a fracture of the base of the skull, with the fracture running through one of the entry points of a carotid and/or vertebral artery into the skull. This can cause arterial bleeding that is virtually uncontrollable, and is almost always rapidly fatal. (Google around for some images to understand the anatomy).

        Lastly, it is usually taught that a patient with signs of moderate to severe head injury and OTHER injuries sufficient to give a low blood pressure will often have a compromised prognosis.

        Hope this helps.

  8. Hi Gary… Well. fortunately I stepped into Mario Muth’s profile of you by chance and it resulted quite inspiring for me.
    Now… About Alonso’s matter… I’m 34 years old and I have 20 years watching car races. I’ve never seen something like this. All those contradictions, mumbling, even lies. I just don’t like it. I don’t buy anything that was officially said about this. Anyway, I agree with you that Fernando is very clever and has put his health above everything else…
    Best wishes

    Ignacio Aguirre, from Argentina

  9. My God what a load of hot air, it’s this simple, Michael will get better or he won’t, and all your talk talk won’t do one single thing to help him.
    What will get him better is his own strength and general fitness before this happened, and being surrounded by those that love him and care for him the most, coupled with Gods love for him, if you want to do anything for him it’s this, your prayers to the god of your understanding can do miracles and
    Can’t do him any harm, ok. Or you can carry on massaging each others egos.

    • How is he Writing about Schumi without respect? He Isn’t personally talking about Michael like it was his fault nor is he disrespecting him. He is offering an interpretation (Nothing else) Of the news given and received. I personally find his insights very helpful and offer a level of insight no one except someone who has worked track side (Like Ian Roberts) as a trained medical doctor who has sat in the medical car themselves for more than a season can offer. So maybe if you stop taking a closed minded and incorrect presumption of the opinion of Micheal Schumacher’s fans and maybe stop reading this blog? If you don’t like it don’t read it and no one is forcing you to read this blog.

  10. Hello Doc,
    I hope you are doing well.Since 29th december I have been following each and every news on michael. From entire world even if its non motorsports fraternity I have seen people praying and passing on positive energy for michael schumacher recovery and that goes same for me.But I wonder what problem do you have with him no matter if its his wife ,sabine or his doc whenever they pass on a positive information you are always critical about it,questioning its authenticity and giving your so called expert comments and you know what the WORLD DOESN’T NEED YOU TO SPEAK AT ALL!!!AS NOBODY CARES.Anything that comes good about michael is appreciated shared on social media with lots of enthusiasm but with your cynical and negative comments you always try to question it and put it down.See you must have a family too who walks on road,travels in car , train buses e.t.c.In this world there is no human being who can say I am completely safe and nothing is going to happen to me.As in Michael’s case he was on a holiday and unfortunate accident happened and his condition is not what it use to be.But since his wife,family,friends and us(his fans) are hopeful that one day he will live a normal life and we pray for the same everyday and but our belief in god that this one day will come soon.All we want is an humble acceptance at your end to stop poking into somebody’s life.Sincerely no matter what your knowledge level is we don’t care at all just keep it to yourself and don’t declare it publicly.

    Since you are not operating on him neither do you have his medical history we simply don’t trust your views at all and feel its a just a publicity mimic performed by you to be a part of limelight since before this personally I haven’t even heard of you.So in order to become popular please don’t do this cheap non sense ,show some class be a good sport and pass positive energies to not only michael but other unfortunate people as well.

    My comments may shock you but trust me even though it doesn’t matters(your comments) but still i feel it hurts many people as they are michael’s die hard fans.

    So please mind your own business and don’t pass negative news about michael and sitback to see his fight as he is a fighter and won’t give up!

    • Speak for yourself. The Good Doctors insights are invaluable to many of us who are genuinely interested in both the human side and the technical side of Michael’s dilemma. I for one check back every single day to see if there is some new news that ISN’T tainted by sensationalism, or fanboi’ism and perhaps unlike some others, I am able to use this information in the way that it is intended WITHOUT being offended. I’d like to counter your negativity by saying to Gary to please DON’T stop commenting on Michael, or Jules, or anything else that he feels worth commenting on because it IS very greatly appreciated.
      Regards.

  11. Hi Gary,
    I’m following your blog since a few months back and I really appreciate your thoughts and comments – I own a small blog to share F1 and would like to include your blog posts in the website. Of course all credit would be given to you and shared using your social media handles on our social media. Let me know if that’s okay! Email me if anything else, omartinez@salracing.com

    Cheers,
    Oswaldo

  12. A friend in motorsport just shared your blog with me. Thanks for writing it — the information you provide is clear and relevant in a world filled with sensationalized media reports. I look forward to reading your posts!

  13. Gary, given the sad event of Mr Ward dying on-track after getting our of his car and the information that according to the DA he was under the effect of pot perhaps you could share your knowledge. In what way does pot impair judgement, how persistent is it?

    In the F1/FIA world – what drug testing regimes are in place?

    • The FIA is a member of WADA and adheres to its charter. I’m pretty sure the antidoping program is detailed quite well on the FIA website. Drivers in the major championships belong to an eligible testing pool, and both in- and out-of-competition testing is carried out.

      Not enough of an expert on what cannabinoids do to information processing. Looks to me like some effects on impulse control might be suspected

  14. I just wanted you all to know…..
    I just want YOU to know………Thank you
    Thank you from someone who was once in that dark place, but didn’t have the nerve. Thank you from that same someone who still struggles some days. Thank you from a family who lost a young & beautiful member to that same unforgiving dark place, It’s the last way to “take control”.
    Thank you from someone who sadly understands
    Thank you for your out stretched hand of help..
    Thank you for your thoughts
    Or simply, Thank you from me.

  15. Good day,

    about Michael chances i think God makes miracles,even Michael Schumacher is a miracle.

    I am doctor too and i belive in God but i think u dont ,because u r american and u beleive only in science and is a shame for a doctor.

    Even Albert Einstein believe in God and he is much smarter than u…..maybe u reformulate all u r theory about life,Universe and God.

    Sorry for disturbing u but i read allot of ur articles about Michael and u give sentences like an inquisitor and u dont now everything about life,nowbody knows.First u say he dont have any chances and life show u ,ur wrong ,so…..i try to bee decent.

    Think twice…..life is a miracle and we know 0.00000(0)1% about human anatomy and physiology…so try to be optimistic.

    Best regards.

    Dan Farcas

    • Hi Dan. Thanks for your comment. I’m impressed that you can draw conclusions as to my spiritual life based on my passport and an obvious acceptance of the scientific method as an important path to the “truth”. You could probably parlay this skill into some kind of night-club act! “I’m seeing Lutheran . . . YOU sir – you are Lutheran aren’t you???” “It”s incredible! How could he know?”

      Albert Einstein famously thought God didn’t play dice with the universe. He was, equally famously, WRONG about what God does and doesn’t do. He may have been the genius of the 20th century, but he (and you!) are just a TAD presumptuous if you pretend to have any idea at all about what God does and doesn’t think, want, do.

      I’ve no idea what proportion of human anatomy and physiology we know and master, but what we DO know allows us to care rather well for an incredible spectrum of diseases, and also to predict, with impressive accuracy, the time course of these diseases. That, in the scientific method, means that “understanding” is not far.

      I will not “defend” the possibilities I envisaged for Michael, as I’ve no desire for this to end up with a “right/wrong” score sheet. I’ll simply point out that Michael is in a minimally conscious state, fed by gastrostomy, breathing through a tracheostomy. I’m pretty sure you’ll find that potential outcome considered in previous posts.

      Miracles? Sure they exist. But I’ll leave that to you, since you’re clearly closer to God than I.

  16. Hello Mr.Dr.Hartstein !

    Don’t know if other people share my opinion,but I want to transmit you something :
    ” I do not understand all the negative things ( most only negative) you write about Michael Schumacher,the way the doctors act concerning his illness a.s.o.
    It should better to let all this know-it-all away and let him,his family and the doctors wiho works hard to make him healthy in peace… Do not come with theory’s,
    because good things come bake to people as the bad also do ! It’s an old proverb : the world is full of pacients which have diseases and not diseases;
    so, every pacient is individual to treat and not by theories ”.
    Please do not take the above things i wrote as an advice to you; it’s only an opinion of myself…

  17. Dear Doctor Gary Hartstein,

    I hope this e-mail finds you in good health.Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Marciano Herrera and I am a Servant Of God from Malaysia.

    Given the relationship you have with the Schumacher’s family with obedience I am writing to your good self hoping with good faith that you will be able to send a message to the family of Michael Schumacher for the glory of God.The message is that God want’s to reach out to Michael through his vessel because of the families prayers and hope that the family will make the right decision to allow God to be God and don’t be to concern about “Privacy” that will deter the family of Schumacher from making the right decision in allowing God to help because the day God created the world,he has given mankind “FreeWill” to make our own decision, God can’t do anything even his God if we made a decision out of our own flesh.

    I have been following his progress from day one until now where all the hype have passed to the point the doctors have given an ultimate answer that it will take a miracle for him to be on his feet again and till then nobody knows how long will he be like this but God.

    This is where with the grace of God I am able to help Michael and his family as God is in the business of doing the impossible and I am just a yield vessel of God doing his will and from my experience of being a vessel of God I have seen so many experiences of coma cases after being prayed over the patient God restores back their life to normal.As God being the creator of the universe and mankind, he is the only one able to help.

    With faith and action I humbly hope that God willing you are able to see this through.
    Thanking you in advance and hoping to hear from you.

    Have a blessed day and God Bless. Attached herewith is my calling card.

    Sincerely yours,
    Marciano Herrera
    Servant Of God
    marciano.alphaomega@gmail.com

  18. Stuff that is inexplicable can at times be referred to as “miracle”. I Know a person in Australia who might be worthwhile getting in touch with, for she was able to (from her home in Australia)get someone out of a coma in USA. I am a Brazilian, so I am not a fan of Mr Michael Schumacher, but I admire him. If anyone who reads is interested in a “miracle” for Michael, please feel free to contact me on +61 41 777 1 999 or email anthony@crosscorp.net

  19. Thanks very much for your prompt reply in the middle of what must be a very busy time in this controversy. Our family was from Ukraine, (Kiev) much in the news these days, so any connection must have been before emigrations. My grandfather was Aaron Hartstein; the family came to US in 1911 or 12, after 5 years in Wales. My mother was 12 at the time. They settled in N.Dakota.
    I’ve been involved in racing one way or another since 1954 in So. California, worked with Toyota for 20 years including CART before F1, ran Bridgehampton Race Circuit for 13 years. I’ll pass your info on to cousins building the family tree who can maybe make the connection. I hope there is one, it would be an honor to claim you as a family member.
    Thanks, Earl

  20. Dr. Hartstein,
    I am a long time fan of Michael and F1 (the sport, not the organization) and am following your very clear critical remarks with interest and hope for his recovery. My other reason for writing; my mother’s maiden name was Hartstein, and there’s a large family now in the process of tracing the family history and discovering “new” cousins. Can you give me a brief personal background? Most of us are in the US, with some in the UK, none so far in Russia or Europe, where the family came from. We’d all appreciate it; thanks.
    earl.gandel@verizon.net

    • Hi Earl. My dad was born in Brooklyn in 1925, to parents from Satu Mare and Baia Mare, Romania. They were part of the Hungarian majority in this area. They emigrated to the USA in 1922 or 1923. My dad has one sister, who lives in New Jersey. His father’s brother (who incidentally married his mother’s sister!) had two children (dad’s first cousins), Al and Jerry. Al has two boys. There, that’s about what I’ve got. Let me know if we’re part of this large family!
      (I remember as a kid having a big special dinner at home for a relative who’d come from Romania, spoke no english, was well placed in the Communist party, and solemnly showed me her Nazi-supplied tattoo during the dinner. I must’ve been 8 or so.)

  21. Hi Gary, I am a specialist in serious brain and nervous system trauma, and have brought people out of comas many times that were seemingly past the point of no return. I have saved lives on Aspen, Colorado ski mountains that had no chance of leaving the mountain alive, and have brought people out of comas in hospitals that doctors had long written off or had no hope in using their techniques at Children’s Hospital in Denver, St Mary’s in Grand Junction, University of Chicago, Flagstaff Arizona, and University of CA at Los Angeles. These cases are well documented and the families are available for reference. We also have great ongoing support for the brain and lifestyle of those who do wake up, and are able to regain some form.

    My friend in Geneva drove out to the Schumacher ranch about 10 days ago, upon reading they had given up hope, and tried to inform them about me, and the availability of someone who may be able to help, and he was met with less than enthusiasm, as is often the case, and was asked to email his input, which he did to no avail, to Michael’s manager or agent. If you have contacts within his medical team, and they are willing to give it a go, I can be reached at:

    Hinkey@mac.com
    USA 757-383-8373

    Dr Steve Hinkey

  22. Dear mr. Hartstein,

    Would you be so kind to contact me about your latest blog post? Right now there are several questions which are left unanswered and I hope you are happy to help me with this. I have a background in journalism and I’m writing an article about Michael Schumachers accident and consequences.

    Thank you in advance for your time,

    Joshua Jacobs
    (+31)620150102 or joshua.jacobs86@gmail.com

  23. Hi Gary, please can you give me a call re your latest blog post? I work for The Sun in London. Many thanks, Tom 07817165467

  24. Dear sir,

    The conflicting information seems normal enough in high profile cases, basically the “too good to be checked” syndrome, where getting a scoop is worth more than getting it right.

    Onto matters of significance. I know, from experience, that experimental treatments will be kept quiet, unless they are an undisputed success.

    My experience has been limited to observing the work of inorganic biochemists working with trusted doctors on brain damage from various forms of metal poisoning, not from serious injuries. As such, I cannot say if this happens much in cases like Michaels.

    This is where you can step in. In your professional experience, are there any circumstances where the doctors will stop working by the book and start hunting for solutions authorized for different but parallel situations? Or check the journals for options?

    Privacy is important, everyone but the bigger media moguls accepts that, but the confidentiality has been impressive by any standard. I am trying to determine if it really is sincere or if it’s to prevent public misunderstandings and possible interference in unorthodox solutions to desperately tricky situations.

  25. Pingback: AUSmotive.com » Reports say “miracle” needed for Schumacher

  26. Pingback: AUSmotive.com » Reports says “miracle” needed for Schumacher

  27. Doc, I appreciate what you’ve tried to do here and I thought it was fair to suggest that the celebrity that facilitates super-stardom and the accumulation of massive wealth and fame should be a two-way street. So I was sorry to see that you seemed to backpedal on this, when fans finally had someone voice their concern.

    The information vacuum is the equivalent of giving the cold-shoulder to millions of loyal,enthusiastic fans & supporters, even though no reasonable person is asking for gruesome details to be released daily, but rather, desires simply to understand the truth about their hero’s condition – however shattering.

    I saw some of the nasty comments in response to “Perplexity”, particularly from the keyboard monkeys who mistakenly believe they’ve inherited the legacy of Miss Manners and self-appointed as Internet guardians of Michael Schumacher. In reality, you are a source of great insight and a calming influence during these sad days. It is disgraceful how ignorant Internet trolls and alleged “F1 Fanatics” have taken to abusing your good name just because you expressed something that countless other Schumacher fans have been thinking!

    Please don’t apologize for making eminently reasonable observations…

    Thanks for all you do &’ve done!

  28. hello garry, I think you’re right. not a word about his current status, not a word about the surgical procedures, not a word about the helmet… for me this is too much silence. I can understand the family’s quest for privacy but in my opinion it is not in their own interest and certainly against the public’s interest; I am a former neurosurgeon and since some 10 years I make helmets adapted to the neurosurgical knowledge on brain injury… best regards from Laon France

  29. Good afternoon,
    my name is Ana Vázquez and I am a last year Journalism and Communication student at Carlos III University in Madrid (Spain). I am doing a report about risk and security in Fórmula 1 and I would really like to interview you as a former F1 doctor. I would appreciate very much your help.

    Thank you for your time.
    Yours sinceresly,
    Ana Vázquez.

  30. Hi Doc,
    A google.fr search on “Il était mi assis, mi debout et faisait de grands gestes agités” will give you some links to reliable sites stating that MSC was conscious when evacuated from Meribel to Moutiers. It looks like the situation worsened at some point and the decision was made to take MSC to Grenoble.
    The statement about “being conscious” is made by Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte Meribel’s Resort Manager (Directeur de la Station) and I guess he is not a doctor (I am not either!) so maybe there was some confusion as to his “real” state?
    I know you speak french so I guess you don’t need somebody to help you with all that… I just wanted to be sure you had the information.
    Best regards.

  31. Dear Gray, well …your very competent blog on “pitpass.com”,about the sad accident from MSC makes me happy,and the medical Status today, I´m on call & duty today in
    Austria, I´m a Long year fellow of F1-racing and Mr.E.,we met at the French GP 2007,may be you remember? A Happy new Year 2014,all the best, and I deeply hope Michael can make it!
    Wolfram
    (Dr.W.v.Boetticher,M.D.-Austria)

  32. We would really like to speak with you on Sky news about Michael Schumacher and his condition. Do let me know if you’re available – my direct line is 0207 032 3925. We would like to do a live TV interview (ideally in vision) and can do something via Skype?

    Best,

    Jessica

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