India Was Such a Poor Place: Lewis Hamilton

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Earlier, the 33-year-old had said, "I've been to India before to a race which was odd because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, handsome grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere", he said.

"If we just go back a little bit and look at what happened in the race, after the first pit stop with Lewis we noticed quite a significant problem, which required a huge amount of input from a number of sources", Mercedes strategist James Vowles said on Mercedes' YouTube series Pure Pitwall.

Social media users criticised him and suggested that he did not understand how to grow the sport, with many pointing out that India has the sixth-largest economy... "I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix", Hamilton told BBC Sport.

Speaking ahead of the Brazil weekend - a race under threat and which could well make way for Vietnam, yet genuinely offers "great overtaking possibilities", "high speeds" and "great racing" as well as being "exciting" and "demanding" - Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was loathe to see the calendar expand to as many as 25 races, hinting that if this were the case he wouldn't be interested.

Those comments drew the ire of Hamilton's Indian fans, forcing the world champion to address the issue.

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"It felt unusual to drive past homeless people then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue". The future of the British Grand Prix beyond 2019 is now uncertain as Silverstone - which been a regular fixture on the calendar since 1987 and hosted Formula 1's first race in 1950 - activated a break clause in its contract. Hamilton was of the opinion that the millions spent on the track, that is now not in use, could have been spent on schools and homes for those in need. "When we did have the race nobody came because it was too expensive or there was no interest", he added. "However, I have met some incredible Indian fans", added Hamilton, who won his fifth title in Mexico last month.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Hamilton's comments had been: "spun out of context". He did not criticise the nation and his words were those of a thoughtful and considered champion.

The Indian GP only featured between 2011-13 on the F1 calendar with Sebastian Vettel claiming victory all three years for Red Bull.

The little-used circuit has since hosted a number of domestic championship races, and been used by vehicle manufacturers for track days, but is widely seen as an expensive "white elephant".

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