Five-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton on Thursday clarified on why he felt “conflicted” to race in a “poor place” like India, saying the huge amount of money could have been spent on building homes and schools rather than a Formula One track.
Hamilton questioned the strategy of taking Formula One to places like India, Korea and Turkey where the sport did not survive for long. Vietnam is another country which doesn’t have rich motorsport history but will be hosting a Formula One race in 2020.
“We’ve got a lot of real racing history in England, Germany, Italy and now in the United States, it is starting to grow. But you only have one event per year in those places. If it was my business, I’d be trying to do more events in those countries,” Hamilton had told BBC.
“I’ve been to Vietnam before and it is beautiful. I’ve been to India before to a race which was strange because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, beautiful grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere. I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.
“We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but poor audience,” said the Briton, who secured his fifth title in Mexico last month.
His comment on India did not go down well with some of his fans and he took to social media to justify what he said. “Hey everyone, I noticed some people are upset with my comment on India. First off, India is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The culture there is incredible. I have visited and always had an amazing time however whilst it’s the fastest growing economy it also has a lot of poverty,” he wrote on Twitter.
“My reference was that a Grand Prix there felt strange to drive past homeless people and then arrive in an huge area where money was not an issue. They spent hundreds of millions on that track now that is never used.
“That money could have been spent on schools or homes for those in need. When we did have the race, nobody came because it was too expensive most likely or no interest. However, I have met some amazing Indian fans,” Hamilton concluded.
Indian Grand Prix was staged from 2011 to 2013 with Sebastian Vettel winning all three races for Red Bull. The inaugural edition saw close to 90,000 people attending the Grand Prix before the number fell to 65,000 the following year. The high-profile race was eventually dropped after three editions due to taxation issues and financial troubles of promoter Jaypee Group.