Everyone's arguing over whether Lewis Hamilton was sexist to spray champagne on a podium model

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton after winning the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Photo: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

This is the photo that has some sports fans accusing critics of Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton of being a racist, and critics accusing the championship leader of being sexist.

Hamilton won Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday for Mercedes, his second win in three races, and now leads the 2015 driver’s championship from 2013 winner Sebastian Vettel.

But his behaviour on the podium is being called into question after he’s taken aim at a hostess sharing the stage for the second time, having sprayed a hostess on the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix.

His actions led to heated debate between those who condemned Hamilton and others coming to his defence.

The British driver was also accused of racism for spraying Mumm champagne in the face of the Chinese woman.

Others simply called out his behaviour as inappropriate.

Drivers have been spraying each other and their crews with champagne for nearly 50 years, but any others soaked by the tradition are collateral damage. Hamilton’s targeting of women in a highly masculinised sport is seen as a step too far, especially against people powerless to take control of the situation.

It’s not the only controversy sparked by Hamilton in the wake of the race, after his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg accused him of driving too slowly, despite team orders to the contrary, and leaving Rosberg vulnerable to Vettel.

Rosberg’s comments, in which he accused Hamilton of compromising his race plan, reignites the feud between that pair which culminated in the pair colliding in the Belgian Grand Prix last year.

“Driving slower than was maybe necessary in the beginning of the stint meant Sebastian was close to me and it opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try an early pit stop to try and jump me and then I had to cover him,” Rosberg said after the Chinese GP. “It was unnecessarily close with Sebastian as a result, and also it cost me a lot of race time because I had to cover him.”

Australian Red Bull-Infiniti driver Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth, with his car once more off the lead pace.

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