Schumacher: Deaths were fate
Michael Schumacher (File)
Greater Noida - Formula One great Michael Schumacher said on Thursday that two deaths which have stunned motorsports were "fate", as he backed safety standards at the new Indian Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion said drivers would race at full pelt this weekend despite the IndyCar and MotoGP tragedies, even though the drivers' and constructors' titles are already won.
"We can't think, while we drive, that we put ourselves in danger. We push our cars to the limit - that's what we feel comfortable with. That will be the same here this weekend," Schumacher said.
"Fate is something we all have to face sooner or later. I'm certainly very much touched with what has happened for both the drivers we have lost but unfortunately we have to say that's life."
This month's deaths of British Indycar driver Dan Wheldon
and MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli
have cast a sombre tone over preparations for India's first Grand Prix at the purpose-built Buddh International Circuit.
But Schumacher said despite dust coating the challenging layout near New Delhi, and top speeds of up to 320kms/h, the course's in-built safety features should keep drivers secure.
"To have total safety, I think that is absolutely impossible, in any part of life," he said.
"Yes, there's more risk involved in a race-car sport, yes Formula One is probably the quickest motor-racing sport that you have around the world. At the same time, safety has been hugely improved.
"If you look at a new project such as this track, lots of huge run-off areas and it has certainly a very high standard of safety. If on top something happens, that's what I would call fate."
Other drivers expressed shock at the deaths, with newly crowned back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull calling the double tragedy "horrible".
"We all take a certain risk when we jump in the car or go onto the bike. We love motorsport, we love the thrill. At the same time we always hope nothing will happen," Vettel said.
"We love what we do, we're happy to take certain risks but it's really shocking when we see how quickly things can change."
Britain's Jenson Button said he had known Wheldon since the age of eight, when they were both racing go-karts, and that they had grown up as fierce rivals on the Formula Ford circuit.
"He was the guy you got up in the morning and said, 'I want to beat him'," Button said. "So we had a lot of good fights in our career.
"He's the guy I followed into Europe in karting and then we both ended up racing in Formula Ford together. We had some great battles.
"We had our comings together and didn't see eye-to-eye, a lot of the time but I think we had a mutual respect."
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso said he was stunned for days after watching both crashes on TV, but he admitted that racers often forgot the dangers when they were caught up in a race.
"When you're driving you don't think about risk. You love the race, you love the competition. The adrenalin that you have when you're driving blinds you of the risk," Alonso said.
"You love racing and you know that it's dangerous. At 310kms/h, if something happens like that there's a risk you will probably have a big accident, but it's impossible to think like that in a race environment."