F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton Caught in a Sharp Turn Over His 'Poor India' Remark

'Don't ever come back. We don't wanna see your face,' wrote one irked fan.

Five-time Formula One World Champion, and often regarded as one of the best drivers of his generation, Lewis Hamilton has managed to draw the ire of social media users in India.

Hamilton recently questioned Formula One's policy of organising races in 'new' countries after this month's announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix.

Hamilton told BBC that he would prefer to see more stops in countries with a genuine racing tradition, rather than expanding to new markets.

"On the racing side, I don't know how important it is to go to new countries as such," said Hamilton who sealed his fifth world title last month.

"If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool."

The British driver then added how the races organised in Vietnam and India have left him conflicted.

"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.

His 'Poor India' remark drove the F1 fans crazy and several reminded Hamilton of his huge fan base back in India.

"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," wrote one fan.

When someone tagged Mercedes-Benz, his sponsor and partner in the sport, the brand defended Hamilton's statement saying his remarks came from a position of empathy and not criticism.

And a handful of Indians came out in support of the racer.

Others couldn't understand why the champion would want to limit the extremely popular sport's reach in other countries.

(With AFP inputs)