Michael Schumacher, Germany's recently-retired seven-time Formula One champion, revealed on Thursday that he considered quitting the sport in 1994 following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the San Marino Grand Prix.
"I looked intensively at both deaths and asked myself what the meaning of Formula One and motor racing was," Schumacher said in magazine SZ, a supplement of the Suddeutsche Zeitung.
Austrian driver Ratzenberger died in Saturday's practice session for the Imola race and Brazil's triple world champion Senna, 34, died in Sunday's race after crashing into a wall.
Schumacher decided to carry on racing but admitted he thought he was going to die after a horrific crash at Silverstone in 1999 from which he escaped with a broken leg.
"I lay there and heard my own heartbeat and it became softer and softer. Everything around me was dark," said Schumacher. "I was afraid and I really thought my time was up."
The 37-year-old Schumacher retired after finishing fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of the season. It was his 249th and final race after 16 years in Formula One.
His autobiography, simply entitled Michael Schumacher, will be released on Friday, giving fans the chance to read about the meteoric rise of the bricklayer's son from the tiny town of Kerpen.