Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has come out to reveal his love for Indian cuisine and Bollywood music after some of his previous comments about the country drew widespread criticism.
Hamilton had earlier said in an interview with the BBC that he felt “conflicted” to race in India, questioning the need to build a “massive” track in a “poor place”.
“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 told the British broadcaster’s website.
“I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.”
Hamilton’s poorly-worded comments caused a lot of stir on social media, forcing him to issue a clarification.
The Englishman explained that he was simply shocked to see the contrast between the rich and the poor in the country - and added that the money spent on building the circuit could have been better utilised on poverty alleviation programmes.
“I noticed some people are upset with my comment on India,” Hamilton wrote on his Twitter page. “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.
“My reference was that a Grand Prix there felt strange to drive past homeless people and then arrive in an huge arena where the money was not an issue.
“They spent hundreds of millions on that track that is now never used. 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 expensive most likely or no interest. However, I have met some amazing Indian fans.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Sahara Force India Formula One Team Chief Operating Officer at Khushboo restaurant
Photo by: F1 Racing magazine
Hamilton has now elaborated about his love for India, describing his fondness for curry and Bollywood music videos.
The 30-old-year, who clinched his fifth F1 title next season, has regularly visited India since 2009 for sponsorship reasons and took part in all three Indian Grands Prix.
He also conducted an F1 showrun in front of a packed Bangalore crowd in September 2011, just a month before India hosted its first grand prix.
"I hope you know that I love India. commented so nastily - they can't even contemplate how much I love it,” he told TOI.
"Everyone has the right to their opinion - good or bad. But I don't have a negative bone in my body about India. India has been a part of my life. And I've been to India. Jeez! I've been to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai.
"What I love in India are the colours, the spices. I've had Indian food every night since I've been here
"And me and my family every weekend - when I'm not racing and and we were sitting together watching past Grands Prix - Saturday night would be curry night,"
"With Bollywood for example, I think there is this incredibly creative mind that they have. Their videos are amazing, the music videos. I don't know what they're saying. in the song, but the actual filmography. cinematography is fantastic there."