Hamilton: We must do something about child poverty

A thoughtful Lewis Hamilton ahead of the India Grand Prix
A thoughtful Lewis Hamilton ahead of the India Grand Prix

This weekend is only the third time Formula 1 has raced in India, but I think I have been to the country about eight times now, taking into account various appearances of one kind and another.

Every visit here, I've had an amazing time.

Of course, you see a lot of poverty on the streets. It's very different from back in Europe or most places on the F1 calendar.

There are kids running around without shoes, people with diseases and all the stuff everyone knows about. But it is still such a great country.

I have done a bit of work here for Unicef, the United Nations children's charity, and it's always the kids who are my main concern.

I love being around children and I've always been good with the kids in my family or those of my friends.

They are the future and I feel like I am in a privileged position to help others try to raise awareness for a lot of the big issues around the world, the sorts of things most of us who live in wealthier countries are not always conscious of as we go about our daily lives.

Last year, I went to visit a village which had a problem with babies dying. I had no idea before I went that so many kids were not making it.

It was a very rural area and a lot of women were having children pretty young - 15, 16, 17 - and they had no way of getting to hospital.

So they would give birth on the floor and wouldn't know how to look after the baby, which would then die because it might not have enough to eat or get ill. Sometimes, the women died, too.

So Unicef came up with a system which meant that women who were about to give birth could send just one text and a bus would come to pick them up.

Another place I went with Unicef was the Philippines, another country where there is a lot of poverty. It was amazing to see the street kids there.

They're so loving. They come over and hold your hand. They don't want any money, they just want to play with you. They wanted to know if I could do the 'Dougie'. I had the most fantastic time with them.

The family I spent most time with were living in a cart with just an awning over the top.

It is disgusting the way that this can still happen in today's world, when our society has achieved so much with technology, communication and intelligent thinking.

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I just don't understand it and yet there are street kids like that living in poverty all over the developing world. It's insane and it makes me wonder how we - the human race - can continue to neglect the neediest people in society and what we need to do to change things. I'd like to help in any way I can.

The Indian Grand Prix is not on the calendar next year and there is a lot of talk at the moment that this might be the last time F1 comes to the country.

I find myself in conflict about that. A lot of money has been spent building this massive track with a huge road leading to it, yet just outside there are people living on the street.

On the other hand, the track employs people, while the race itself brings tourists to India and raises awareness of the country.

It will be a shame if we don't come back. All that money would have been spent to build this great facility and it would be left to sit and rot.

There is so much more they could do with this place. Imagine if they opened it to loads of kids and got them into the sport. I'm sure there are things we could do to make this race one of the most amazing in F1.


Sebastian Vettel will almost certainly win the championship on Sunday and I could understand if people then thought everything was wrapped up for the season.

But there will still be a lot to watch and get excited about in the final three grands prix of the campaign.

There is a lot of fighting going on behind the Red Bulls, especially between Ferrari and Lotus and my team Mercedes for second place in the constructors' championship.

And each individual race is almost like a mini-world championship, the equivalent of a Champions League final, say.

They're all in different countries, so if you win in Montreal, for example, you are the champion of Montreal for that year. The same goes for India.

I love racing and want to be at the centre of the action. And I've not won in India yet. I'll be doing my utmost to make that happen this weekend.