Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton was forced to issue a clarification about his comments regarding hosting F1 races in ‘poor place’ like India.
Hamilton had earlier stated that he did not like the idea of hosting races in new countries after this month’s announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix.
“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.” Hamilton had said.
His comments created a storm on social media and the Mercedes driver issued a statement, saying: “I noticed some people are upset with my comment on India. My reference was that a grand prix there felt strange to drive past homeless people, then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue.
“They spent hundreds of millions on a track that was now never used and that money could have been spent on schools or homes. When we did have the race nobody came because it was too expensive or there was no interest.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton has backed races in traditional Formula 1 venues as opposed to new locations on the circuit.
Formula 1 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 British star 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 told BBC Sport.
“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.
“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.
“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?'”
Verstappen was in complete control of the race after passing both Mercedes and both Ferrari cars in a superb performance at the Interlagos circuit.
But it was Lewis Hamilton who claimed the 10th victory of his championship-winning campaign, after Verstappen was taken out of the lead when attempting to lap Force India’s Ocon.
Ocon, running way down the order, bizarrely raced wheel-to-wheel at 200mph with the leader before banging into the right-rear of Verstappen’s car through the Senna Esses.
The force of the hefty impact on lap 43 sent Verstappen into a spin, and with the Dutchman facing the wrong way, Hamilton sailed by to resume the lead.
Verstappen was now five seconds down on Hamilton, and – with a wounded car – he was unable to claw the Mercedes back in before he finished in second.
Ocon was hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, the most severe punishment available to the stewards, but it will come as little consolation to a furious Verstappen.
Kimi Raikkonen finished third for Ferrari, but it was not enough to stop Hamilton’s Mercedes team from winning their fifth-consecutive constructors’ championship.
Hamilton started from pole position and made no mistake from his starting blocks as he won the race to the uphill opening left bend.
Behind, Sebastian Vettel got a decent getaway, too, but locked up his front-left tyre and lost second place to Valtteri Bottas.
It would be the precursor to a rotten afternoon for the German after he finished only sixth.
It was not long before Verstappen, the winner in Mexico a fortnight ago, was on the move from fifth on the grid.
On lap three, Verstappen launched a charge down the inside of Raikkonen at Turn 1 before producing the same move on Vettel a little over 60 seconds later.
The Red Bull star was on a flyer, and it did not take him long to get the better of Bottas, sailing past the Silver Arrows at Turn 1.
Hamilton’s lead was steady, a little more than two seconds clear of Verstappen, but the British driver was the first of the frontrunners to stop for fresh tyres, boxing for new rubber on lap 19.
Verstappen took the lead of the race but – despite failing to build up enough of a margin to leapfrog Hamilton during his change for tyres – the Dutchman did his talking on the track, comfortably dashing past Hamilton on the main straight with 31 laps to go.
That looked to be that, but just four laps later, the result dramatically turned on its head when Verstappen was swiped out from the lead by Ocon.
Verstappen was furious and he yelled over the radio: “What a f****** idiot.”
“I don’t know what to say,” the Red Bull driver said after the chequered flag.
“I hope I can’t find him now in the paddock,” he added, followed by a series of bleeped-out expletives.
Despite a brave fightback from vVrstappen, Hamilton picked up the pieces to triumph for a second time in Brazil, and a decade on from winning his first of five championships.
Daniel Ricciardo took fourth for Red Bull ahead of Bottas and Vettel.