MARK WEBBER knows how fine the line is between glory and tragedy in his sport but says all he thinks about behind the wheel is the need to ''push myself and the car to the limit''.
While he is aware of the emotional turmoil his career places on his loved ones, the Australian formula one driver said he seldom thought about the dangers of his profession - even as he reached speeds of more than 300km/h.
''You love the competitive nature of it, you love pushing the car to the limit and you love walking over that template yourself and seeing if you can do it,'' Webber said of the dangers of his sport.
''It rarely comes into your mind. When I'm driving the car I need to go faster. That's all that's in our minds - faster lap times, faster lap times, how we can improve the car - that's my job and that is what I think of 100 per cent of the time.''
His comments came just two days after the death of his friend, British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, in a horrific accident in a race in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Although competition was fierce, Webber said drivers trusted each other not to overstep the mark on the track, where split-second decisions can have dire consequences. ''To put it into layman's terms is not super easy, because the decisions that we make … it's a fine line,'' the Red Bull driver said.
''You push the car and our competitors to the edge, and [there's] a lot of trust in each other that he's going to be racing in the correct fashion and generally, at the level that I've been racing at, that's been the case,'' Webber said.
''And that's the case in America. The driving standards are high.''
Webber said he had a mental ''barometer'' as to the risks he took on the race track.
''There's types of places or corners or sections of a track where you know that you probably don't want to get into any strife,'' Webber said. ''That's been the same since the 1940s and that will be the same in 2040. That's just the way car racing is.
''I like it when you've got to get the elbows out and get into it a little bit.
''When the conditions change, when it's raining, I can't see, there are elements, again that's the barometer I talk about where we need to make sure we're not going off here because other guys aren't going to see me and things like that,'' he said.
Webber is no stranger to accidents on the track, most spectacularly in the 1999 Le Mans 24-hour race which saw his Mercedes-Benz CLR become airborne due to an aerodynamic fault. Remarkably, Webber emerged from the wreckage unscathed.
He also survived a spectacular crash last year during the European Grand Prix in Spain, which saw his Red Bull car flip into the air after clipping the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus.
''A lot of the decisions are mine in the car and the worst thing is if we have a mechanical failure in the car,'' Webber said.
''It's not as bad as aviation but similar to aviation when we're committed to a particular corner and the car lets you down.
''We might have loads of time to address it but we might not have much time at all and that also can be fate,'' he added.
Webber and Wheldon became friends in the 1990s at the start of their careers in England and, though not close, kept in touch regularly.
''Whenever he came back to England, at awards nights we'd always make sure we got to see each other and say hello,'' Webber said.
''He was a super guy, a really, really good guy and you never ever think it happens to good guys but he was - that's the cards that were dealt on the day and it was an absolute tragedy.''
Webber's close friend, Australian Will Power, was racing with Wheldon when the accident happened.
''I know Will very, very well and I helped Will throughout his junior career and he's a very good friend of mine and he was lucky on the day,'' Webber said.
''Dan was beside him, and Dan was very unfortunate.
''What plays on your mind a little bit more is it's quite nerve-racking for your loved ones … it's pretty hard for them,'' Webber said.
''I make the decisions that I think are right at the time.''
Webber was back in Sydney promoting the Casio Edifice watch.