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.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.