Podium girl at centre of ‘Spraygate’ says she “didn’t think too much” of Hamilton’s actions in Shanghai

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The podium girl at the centre of the ‘Spraygate’ debacle in the days following the Chinese Grand Prix has defused the situation by saying that she was not bothered by Lewis Hamilton’s actions.

After winning the race in Shanghai last Sunday, Hamilton sprayed Liu Siying with champagne during the podium ceremony, with pictures emerging of her looking uncomfortable.

Anti-sexism campaign Object spoke out about the incident, claiming that Hamilton abused Ms Siying’s position on the podium.

Speaking to shanghaidaily.com, Siying said that she was not bothered by Hamilton’s actions on the podium, and that the story had been exaggerated by foreign media.

“It lasted for only one or two seconds, and I did not think too much about it at all,” Siying said. “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.”

Hamilton was asked about the incident during today’s press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and said that he saw nothing untoward about what he did given that Ms Siying did not feel offended.

“My actions are through excitement,” Hamilton said. “This is Formula 1, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport, I’d just won a grand prix for the team and… I usually see it as a fun thing.

“I would never intend to disrespect someone or try to embarrass someone like that. I don’t really know the reasons why people are starting to bring those kind of things up but this is a sport that so many people love and the more we show character and fun, perhaps it reflects just how great this sport is.

“That’s what I try to do. I don’t really know what to say about it. It hasn’t really affected me and it’s nice to know that the lady wrote in.

“If it had been the other way and she’d wrote in and she was really unhappy, then perhaps there would be more concern.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”