By Alan Baldwin
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – French champagne, rather than sparkling wine, will again be sprayed on the Formula One podium after Carbon was announced as the sport’s new official supplier at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.
In a fresh twist, the bottles presented to the top three drivers will have markers — gold for the winner, silver for second and bronze for third.
The bottles, containing a vintage 100 percent Chardonnay 2009 Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Millesime, are coated in the same carbon fiber used in manufacturing race cars.
Mumm, the Pernod Ricard-owned house, was Formula One’s most recent official champagne but that 15-year partnership ended in 2015.
Chandon, a Moet Hennessy-owned sparkling wine that sponsors McLaren and has vineyards in Argentina, the United States, Brazil, Australia, India and China, stepped in as the replacement without fanfare and was used last season.
That meant the familiar drawn-out shout of ‘Champaaaagne’ as the corks pop on the podium was silenced, since wine can only be called ‘champagne’ if harvested and produced in the eastern French region.
Instead, the call was for ‘celebration’ — a formula used at grands prix in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain where non-alcoholic rosewater is sprayed for cultural reasons.
Moet was the official champagne supplier before Mumm.
Motorsport’s champagne spraying tradition started 50 years ago, after Swiss driver Jo Siffert accidentally sprayed the crowd at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours race when the cork shot out of a bottle of Moet warmed up by the sunshine.
The following year at the same race, American winner Dan Gurney recreated the moment and deliberately shook the bottle to cheers from the crowd.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)