(CNN) Lewis Hamilton has clarified his comments on Indian poverty after some of his social media followers were “upset.”
In an interview with the BBC, the five-time world champion said he felt “conflicted” attending the Indian Grand Prix, which ran on the Formula One calendar from 2011 to 2013.
“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,” he said.
“I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.”
That led to some fans criticizing the British driver for his remarks, with one Twitter using writing: “My country is a bit strange as we have the mix of all cultures.
“My country is a bit strange as have the world’s largest democracy. But Lewis Hamilton off all these, we are not ‘poor country’ as it seems to you.”
Another wrote: “No Lewis Hamilton, you are wrong. F1 needs to go to new countries to popularize the sport.
“I think it’s better you stick to racing and let the sponsors, marketing and branding teams for Formula 1 handle the race circuits. FYI F1 is hugely popular in India.”
The Buddh International Circuit hosted just three grands prix before it was removed from the F1 schedule following a tax dispute.
About 60 percent of India’s nearly 1.3 billion people live on less than $3.10 a day, the World Bank’s median poverty line, according to the bank. And 21 percent– or more than 250 million people — survive on less than $2 a day. In India, the top 1 percent of the population owns 58 per cent of the country’s wealth.
“Hey everyone, I noticed some people are upset with my comment on India,” Hamilton posted on his social media accounts. “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.”
Hamilton said it “felt strange to drive past homeless people then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue.”
India spent an estimated $400 million to bring Formula One to the country, building a brand new track and 120,000-seat arena in 2011.
“They spent hundreds of millions on that track that is now never used,” Hamilton said.
“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.”
But while there were some who criticized the 33-year-old, many others agreed with his comments.
“I knew … Nothing wrong in there! I’m from India as well and what you said was correct,” wrote one fan.
“Totally true!” wrote another. “Being from India myself I totally agree with what you’ve said. But for interest to flourish here, races should be conducted here. Personally a big fan.”