Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has leaped to the defence of Lewis Hamilton after the Formula 1 champion faced an online backlash over comments made regarding visiting India for three grands prix between 2011-2013. Hamilton spoke of being conflicted while competing at the Buddh International Circuit, owing to poverty seen in the surrounding area.
The five-time world champion suggested that he would be in favour of Liberty Media introducing more races in motorsport's European and American heartlands, on the back of an announcement that a Vietnam GP will join the calendar in 2020.
While describing previous races in new countries, Hamilton told BBC Sport: "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."
Hamilton made his own explanation of his comments on social media and Wolff issued a statement via Mercedes' Twitter account to back his man.
Toto: “It is once again unbelievable to me how the words and the meaning of Lewis get spun out of context in this way. He spoke with empathy about India and the painful contrast between wealth and poverty that we face while travelling the globe as sporting ambassadors.” (1/2) https://t.co/4YYazNj4ot — Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 15, 2018
Toto: ”Lewis 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.” (2/2) https://t.co/4YYazNj4ot — Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 15, 2018
F1 raced in India three times – Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull winning each time before it was dropped following a tax dispute with local authorities.