The Formula One grid girl who was hit by a torrent of champagne courtesy of Lewis Hamilton after his victory at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday said she wasn’t really bothered by the incident, at least not as much as the Western world seemed to be.
The Mercedes driver got an earful from web users and anti-sexism activists after he unleashed a stream of bubbly on a nearby hostess while celebrating his win on the top tier of a podium.
As soon as images of the spray-down circulated online, the Twitter mob readied their pitchforks and went at him with merciless verbal bashing. One user suggesting that the “pig” be “tarred and feathered” and another accused him (as it always comes down to in situations like these) of being a racist.
And while it’s a decades-old tradition for F1 drivers to spray champagne on the podium (Mumm brand champagne has been providing the beverage since 2000) anti-sexism campaigners criticized Hamilton for specifically targeting the lone hostess, after he’d been berated for the same thing last year during the Spanish Grand Prix.
“Motor racing appears to unnecessarily portray women as sexualized objects and that probably makes it even harder for the women to stand up for themselves. We would hope people in the industry would be respectful to these women,” said Roz Hardie, the chief executive of the anti-sexism group Object.
The grid girl in question, a 23-year-old Shanghai Institute of Visual Art graduate named Liu Siying, told Shanghai Daily that she in fact was not fazed after getting drenched by fizz.
“It lasted for only one or two seconds, and I did not think too much about it at all,” Liu said.
Liu works at a Shanghai real estate company and applied to become a podium model because she’s a fan of the Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen.
“I think some foreign media are more sensitive about the topic compared to local media,” Liu told Daily reporters. “I was just told by my employer to stand on the podium, and that’s what I did.”
She also posted screen shots of some media coverage to her Weibo account on Tuesday night with the caption: “I can’t control other people’s behavior when I’m working. I hope the public don’t have the incident tangled and affect my personal life.”