Formula One: Lewis Hamilton slammed for spraying champagne into podium girl's face

SHANGHAI - British driver Lewis Hamilton has been branded "selfish" and "inconsiderate" for his celebration antics after winning the Chinese Grand Prix on April 12.

The reigning F1 champion was photographed unleashing a torrent of bubbly directly into a podium girl's face, which sparked a heated debate on his actions.

Object, a campaign in the United Kingdom against media sexism, has been particularly vocal in its criticism.

"The photos appear to show that the woman is not just being splashed, but that the champagne is being very specifically directed into her face, which does not look like a voluntary piece of horseplay on her part," Object's chief executive, Roz Hardie, told The Daily Mail.

"If this is the case, we think Lewis Hamilton should apologise for his actions and think carefully about how he behaves in the future. For most people, it would be apparent that she is not enjoying it.

"It's unfortunate that a great victory has been marred by what appears to be selfish and inconsiderate behaviour."

Ms Hardie also claimed that this incident was a general reflection of how women are viewed as sex objects in motor racing.

Netizens were split over Hamilton's treatment of the podium girl - some found it offensive, while others defended him for what has been perceived as a light-hearted moment.

But win or lose, the Mercedes driver is well known his spraying antics on the podium, having repeated his celebrations on a regular basis.

Champagne-spraying after winning a race is a tradition that traces its roots to 1967, when driver Dan Gurney kickstarted the spontaneous celebration by showering the crowd after his surprise victory at the 24 Hours Of Le Mans race.

Previously, drivers had only sipped from the bottle or their trophy cup.

mklee@sph.com.sg