Lewis Hamilton says he is living in "constant fear" of catching COVID-19 as the 2021 F1 season enters its closing stages.
As it stands, the Mercedes driver trails Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by eight points in the title race, with a final back-to-back sequence in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi set to bring the campaign to a close.
Despite previously catching and recovering from the virus, Hamilton has remained as vigilant as ever and is well aware of the consequences a positive test could have.
"You live in constant fear"
Hamilton opened up about his anxieties in the build-up to this weekend's penultimate round at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
"You live in constant fear," said Hamilton in an interview with German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
"For the people around me, it's not bad if they miss a day at work. But for us drivers, it can be crucial. If you miss one or two races, the year is over.
"I see other athletes who are super relaxed about it and don't seem to mind if they get it. That feels strange to me."
Hamilton holding his breath
Hamilton went on to explain just how much he has changed his behaviour in the company of others in a bid to stay clear of the virus.
"The rules have been relaxed a bit in some areas," added Hamilton.
"[But] it's easy to get careless and get into trouble, so you always have to keep it in mind.
"My approach to social contact is very different now than it was in the past, because you keep your distance from everyone and always hold your breath when people are around you."
Hamilton's own recovery from the virus
Hamilton also described just how difficult it was to recover from the virus, which caused him to miss last year's Sakhir Grand Prix.
"The first half of this season was one of the hardest I have ever experienced," he commented.
"I had to really fight through it. I focused on the recovery programme and training, used breathing techniques, and ran almost every day.
"Because of the more intensive training, I didn't have any problems in the hotter races after the summer break. I'm grateful for that. I feel like I'm finally rid of it."
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