Merc boss fumes as Hamilton clears the air
Mercedes have defended comments from Lewis Hamilton about F1's former grand prix in India.
Hamilton himself issued a statement on social media in response to criticism over comments about his experience racing in India when the sport held an event there between 2011 and 2013.
The world champion told the BBC: "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."
In a subsequent post on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, Hamilton wrote: "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 is the fasted (sic) growing economy it also has a lot of poverty.
"My reference was that a Grand Prix there felt strange to drive past homeless people and then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue. They spent hundreds of millions on that track that is now 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 India fans."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said it was "unbelievable" how Hamilton's "thoughtful" comments about his experience of racing in India had been misconstrued.
"It is once again unbelievable to me how the words and the meaning of Lewis get spun out of context in this way," said Wolff in a statement.
"He spoke with empathy about India and the painful contrast between wealth and poverty that we face while travelling the globe as sporting ambassadors. He did not criticise the nation and his words were those of a thoughtful and considered champion.
"The only fault here lies with the people who have twisted his words to mean something else entirely."
In his interview with the BBC Hamilton backed races in traditional F1 venues as opposed to new locations on the circuit.
F1 chiefs continued the sport's current trend by announcing plans earlier this month for a grand prix in Vietnam from 2020. Venues like Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi and India are among venues added to the Formula 1 calendar since 2004.
But Hamilton, who recently claimed his fifth world title, has questioned that approach.
"On the racing side, I don't know how important it is to go to new countries as such," Hamilton said.
"If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool.
"We've got a lot of real racing history in England, Germany, Italy and now in the States it is starting to grow. But you only have one event per year in those places.
"If it was my business, I would be trying to do more events in those countries.
"I've been to Vietnam before and it is beautiful.
"We had a grand prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but poor audience," he said.
"If you have the German Grand Prix and you've got a grand prix in Berlin, I think connecting to cities where a lot of people are is probably a good thing, not necessarily going to countries where they don't know so much about Formula 1."
Hamilton is two world title successes short of equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven, and he added: "I feel I have still got more years, more days ahead if I am lucky, and there are still many mountains to climb.
"There will still be difficult times ahead. I don't know when they will come, but I feel better prepared now than I ever have been.
"I have got to look at this season, which has been the best of my career, and think, 'How can I improve next year?'"
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission