Lewis Hamilton, while questioning Formula One’s policy of organising races in new countries, said he was in a dilemma when he visited India for the Indian Grand Prix and and found it strange because India is a poor country and an F1 track was built in the middle of nowhere.
Hamilton made the comment in the wake of the announcement of the Vietnam Grand Prix earlier this month.
"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." - Lewis Hamilton to BBC Sport
Hamilton said 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." - Lewis Hamilton
"We've got a lot of real racing history in England, Germany, Italy and now in the States, it is starting to grow," said the five-time Formula One Champion. “If you had the Silverstone Grand Prix and a London Grand Prix, it would be pretty cool."
Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, will stage a Formula One street race from 2020 after signing a 10-year deal.
Over the years, F1 has expanded markets beyond the regular racing powerhouses. Now, they have regular races in China, South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, with mixed success.
"But you only have one event per year in those places. If it was my business, I'd be trying to do more events in those countries," Hamilton said.
Formula One did well in Singapore, but it did not last long in India and South Korea. Vietnam also has scant racing tradition.
"We had a Grand Prix in Turkey and hardly anyone came. Cool track, cool weekend but a poor audience" - Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton 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 One."
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