NOIDA, India - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has said he accepts the risk of dying in a Formula One car as he follows his passion for racing to the limit.
On an Indian Grand Prix weekend where the sport is remembering IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon and MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, both killed in races in the last two weeks, Hamilton faced his own fears head on.
"Everyone will have (Wheldon and Simoncelli) in their minds," the 2008 world champion told British newspaper reporters ahead of Sunday's race.
"But you have got to do what you do because you love it. It is a sacrifice and a risk that we all take. No one wants to be in those situations but, for me, if I was to pass away, I cannot imagine a better way, personally," said the 26-year-old.
"I have always said if I was going to go, then in a racing car would be the way to do it. It is what I love."
Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, still racing for Mercedes at the age of 42, told reporters earlier in the week that he took a fatalistic approach to a sport he has been involved in for two decades.
The German said total safety was impossible in any walk of life but pointed out to the huge improvements made in Formula One since the death of triple champion Ayrton Senna in 1994, the sport's last driver fatality in a race.
"If on top something happens, then that's what I would call fate and fate is something that we all have to face sooner or later," said Schumacher.
"I'm certainly very touched by what has happened for both of the drivers that we have lost but unfortunately you have to say that's life."
Many of the drivers will carry tributes to Wheldon and Simoncelli, with the Briton's initials and the Italian's racing number 58 on cars and helmets, but Hamilton hesitated to say their deaths had been down to fate.
"I don't know if I would agree with that," he said.
"My thoughts go out to their (Wheldon's and Simoncelli's) families. I cannot imagine what they are going through. It is the same for (his own late karting mentor) Martin Hines' family and all the people that are passing away at the moment."
Hamilton, who made a sensational debut in Formula One in 2007, has been criticized this season for his aggressive driving and repeated visits to the race stewards for collisions and controversies.
The Briton, who recently split with his American singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, told reporters he was now fully focused on his Formula One career.
"I don't know how you turn a page in life, I don't think there's a textbook way of doing it. I think life is like a puzzle, you've just got to get things in place," Hamilton said after Saturday qualifying.
"Formula One is a massively competitive sport where you have to have clear thoughts, you just have to live and breathe Formula One. There's no room for anything else really.
"So I plan to eliminate everything else in my life outside, obviously not my family or anything like that, that can be a distraction. That's a start."
In a brutal self-assessment, Hamilton said his driving had been his 'biggest hazard' this season.
"I can improve, and that's what I'm working towards for next year, and also staying out of the stewards' office is a very big goal - top of my priorities for next year."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston; For Reuters sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport)