Hamilton aware of risky business

2014-10-11 13:44
Lewis Hamilton (AP)

Sochi - Lewis Hamilton is all too aware of the risks of racing, even without the cloud cast over Formula One by Jules Bianchi's accident, but the championship leader would not have it any other way.

The Briton, champion with McLaren in 2008 and winner of eight races so far this year with Mercedes, knows he is taking his life in his hands when he steps into the cockpit -- however safe the cars may be.

But the 29-year-old accepts the dangers, even if others may need occasional reminders.

"I think people kind of forget. I feel people I meet just think we are a bunch of overpaid kids and we're just going out and playing," he told British reporters at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

"But there's not a second that I get in in the car that I am not fully aware of the dangers ahead of me. That's probably part of the adrenalin rush you get, of knowing you are on the edge. But you go in accepting whatever dangers are ahead.

"The good thing is the FIA (International Automobile Federation) have worked so hard and we've had very few incidents over the years," added Hamilton.

Bianchi's accident in Japan last weekend, with the French driver in critical condition after crashing into a recovery tractor at Suzuka, has cast a dark cloud over Sunday's race.

The death of Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna in 1994 remains Formula One's last driver fatality and that tragedy made a big impression on the young Hamilton just as it did on millions of fans worldwide.

It was not the only one he has had to confront. That same year, young British racer Daniel Spence died of head and neck injuries when his kart landed on top of him.

"When I was nine years old I saw a young driver die when I was racing in karts," Hamilton wrote in a column for the BBC. "A good friend of mine who was a good friend of his stopped racing but that has never been something that has entered my mind.

"That was a very traumatic time for me as a kid. Even now I can remember standing on the bank beside a track with him with our suits on just before a race, all laughing and joking. And then the next thing I knew I was at his funeral. It was the first time I had ever been to one.

"It is very hard to put that out of my mind at the moment, after what happened to Jules. Things like this really open up your view a bit. Bad things happen to people but the world keeps going which is really sad in a way."

Hamilton came into the sport in 2007 as an immediate sensation and has now won 30 grands prix, with 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell's British record of 31 looking likely to be beaten before the end of the year.

He leads Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg by 10 points, with four races remaining.

Even in the more difficult moments of his career, there has never been any doubt that Hamilton was destined to drive and is happiest when racing.

"Passion. I love what I do," he said when asked what motivated him.

"There's nothing ever, ever, ever going to be anything like it for me. I count my blessings. There are only 22 of us and I am at the top of those 22. There are millions who wish they had the job I have. I certainly don't take it for granted.

"There's a lot of work and grafting, from me and my family, that got me to where I am today. I'm also grateful to God for the opportunity but I feel that this is only a stepping stone and my job is to inspire others -- young kids -- because it does," added Hamilton.

"These races and championships are what people wake up to see every day. I get messages all the time, like 'because of yesterday I am up today. It's like the best day ever'. Encouraging people to always strive for better."

Read more on:    lewis hamilton  |  motorsport  |  f1

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