Formula One star plays down champagne-spraying incident for which he drew intense criticism at Chinese GP recently
Lewis Hamilton has described his champagne-spraying of a grid girl after the Chinese Grand Prix, which has drawn widespread criticism, as "a fun thing".
Lewis Hamilton sprays champagne at Liu Siying at the podium after winning the Chinese Grand Prix last Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
One of the fundamental acts of Formula One has been brought into sharp focus over the past few days following Hamilton's win in Shanghai.
In a typical moment of exuberance that comes with a victory for any driver, and following the playing of the national anthems, Hamilton grabbed his bottle of bubbly and for a fleeting moment turned it on grid girl Liu Siying.
The pictures that followed appeared to show the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art graduate grimacing as the champagne hit the side of her head.
The incident drew condemnation from Object, a campaign group against sexism, which condemned Hamilton's behaviour as "selfish and inconsiderate", and called on him to apologise.
Siying, however, has since defended Hamilton, remarking to the Shanghai Daily: "It lasted for only one or two seconds, and I did not think too much about it at all." She added: "I think some foreign media are more sensitive about the topic compared to local media. I was just told by my employer to stand on the podium, and that's what I did."
Asked yesterday about the matter ahead of this weekend's race in Bahrain, Hamilton was relieved to hear Siying's comments.
The world champion said: "I hadn't really heard too much about it until today. Obviously when you arrive (at the circuit) you get a debrief as to what has happened during the week, so fortunately for me it has not overshadowed my week.
'This is Formula One'
"This is Formula One — the pinnacle of motor sport — and I'd just won a Grand Prix for the team. You should see it was a kind of a fun thing. I would never ever intend to disrespect or try to embarrass someone like that.
"It hasn't affected me, and it's nice to know the lady kind of wrote in. If she had wrote in and said she was really unhappy then perhaps I would be more concerned."