Why Do F1 Winners Spray Champagne?

The Formula 1 podium has become synonymous with spraying champagne. The drivers have been following the tradition of spraying champagne on the podium for years now, and it has become a symbol of celebration. But not all fans know exactly why F1 winners spray champagne, and when it started.

F1 winners spray champagne as an act of celebration, along with those finishing second and third, and a representative from the winning team. The tradition has various roots, with various sources offering dates of the first spraying of champagne from 1966, 1967 and 1969.

Formula 1 drivers technically don’t spray champagne anymore though, but this only down to a technicality. We’ll discuss that in more detail later on, but first it’s worth going back in time to understand why F1 drivers decided to start spraying champagne on the podium in the first place.

Why Do F1 Drivers Spray Champagne On The Podium?

The tradition of spraying champagne on the podium likely originally happened by accident. As one origin story claims it to be, the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was won by a Swiss driver named Joseph Siffert, who was racing for Porsche. On the post-race podium, he received his trophy, wreath and a bottle of champagne, as had been customary for many years by then.

Le Mans Roots

While on the podium the bottle of champagne popped, spraying all the drivers and the crowd. The bottle had been left out in the sun and had become warm, which caused pressure to build up inside the bottle, causing the cork to pop.

The drivers still didn’t purposefully spray the champagne on the podium though. It wasn’t until the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following year when champagne was sprayed on purpose for the first time.

Dan Gurney, an American driver who also had a stint Formula 1, had won the race when he purposefully shook the bottle, popped the cork, and sprayed his teammate and the crowd with champagne. However, it didn’t become a well-known feature of F1 until 1969, when Jackie Stewart’s hot champagne bottle “accidentally” popped.

Jackie Stewart Or Graham Hill?

The story goes that he used his thumb to try and stop the waste, but this obviously just led to more spraying. However, there are images of Graham Hill in February of 1966 spraying champagne (possibly by accident) at the Australian Grand Prix. However, this wasn’t televised, so Jackie Stewart is the one to claim that he was the first to spray champagne on the F1 podium.

Why Are Formula 1 Drivers Given Champagne On The Podium?

Champagne has been a traditional celebratory drink for centuries. Since Formula 1 has been the peak of motorsport for years, winning a race, or even finishing on the podium, was obviously cause for celebration. Beating your competitors is an achievement, and giving drivers a bottle of champagne is a congratulatory gesture.

From launching ships to celebrating special occasions, champagne is used all over the world as a sign of celebration. It only made sense to bring the concept into motorsport, and it quickly became a popular tradition, even if the champagne wasn’t sprayed in the early days.

Any tradition in motorsport is usually taken seriously. Whether it’s Formula 1, Le Mans, or MotoGP, the past plays an important role in motorsport. Changing traditions usually doesn’t go down well with the fans, drivers, or teams! This is why champagne has remained an integral part of the podium celebrations.

Is It Real Champagne That F1 Drivers Spray?

It is not real champagne that F1 drivers spray, and instead they spray Ferrari Trento sparkling wine. F1 did use real champagne on the podium for most of the sport’s history, but the switch to sparkling wine came in 2021, having featured before, with Chandon supplying it in 2016 (and part of 2017).

With Formula 1 being the pinnacle of motorsport, they took pride in the fact that they were using the best of the best in expensive liquid to spray on the podium. It was also a great way to promote the champagne brand to millions of fans around the world. Partnering with Formula 1 gives the brand a lot of exposure, as their bottle will always be promoted on the podium.

Is Ferrari Trento Owned By Ferrari?

Ferrari Trento is not owned by Ferrari. Ferrari Trento is owned by the Lunelli Group. Ferrari Trento was founded by Giulio Ferrari in 1902. The drinks brand has no association with the Ferrari family that founded the supercar company in 1947.

Currently, Formula 1 are using the Ferrari Trento sparkling wine during their podium celebrations. Many fans have been left confused believing that this Ferrari sparkling wine is connected to the car company and the Formula 1 team, but in truth there is no connection.

How Big Are Formula 1 Champagne Bottles?

Formula 1 champagne bottles are usually Jeroboams, which are 3 liter bottles. The large bottles allow the drivers to spray more champagne (now Ferrari Trento sparkling wine) while having some left for themselves and their teammates at the end of the podium ceremony.

Why Doesn’t F1 Use Champagne Anymore?

F1 doesn’t use champagne anymore simply because the supplier, Ferrari Trento, provides F1 with sparkling wine. As the wine isn’t made in the Champagne region of France, it cannot be called champagne. F1 hasn’t used champagne since 2020, but it has done for most of its history.

All About Sponsorship

There was no fallout or controversial event that took place between Formula 1 and the previous champagne suppliers, such as Moët and Mumm. The changes happened simply due to the fact that their partnership had come to an end, and both mutually agreed not to continue with it.

Formula 1 naturally moved on and quickly attracted a brand new drinks supplier. This cycle will continue for years to come, as with any other partnership in Formula 1. This means that we could see champagne on the podium again in the near future.

The Exception To Alcoholic Drinks

Formula 1 doesn’t use champagne, or rather sparkling wine, at every Grand Prix. There are some rare exceptions where a non-alcoholic drink has to be used in order to comply with a country’s laws and regulations.

Countries such as Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and now Saudi Arabia do not encourage or allow the public consumption of alcohol. In order to remain respectful to the host nation, Formula 1 does not use an alcoholic podium drink in any of these countries.

Formula 1 podiums in these countries use rose water instead of sparkling wine. This is why you’ll often see the drivers struggle to spray the liquid as the rose water is not as carbonated as champagne or sparkling wine is.

As the average age of F1 drivers has plummeted in recent years, it’s not uncommon to see a driver under the age of 21 racing in Formula 1. Should they find themselves on a podium at the US Grand Prix for example, many fans may wonder whether they would be allowed to have champagne or not.

In these cases, the drivers are advised to just spray the champagne rather than drink it. Sebastian Vettel famously ignored this advice in Turkey 2011, drinking the champagne anyway. The legal drinking age in Turkey was raised to 24 in 2011, with Vettel being 23 at the time.

Final Thoughts

F1 winners spray champagne on the podium as an act of celebration, and it has been tradition in the sport – and other motorsports – for decades. While the fizzy drink of choice at the moment is actually sparkling wine, champagne has featured on F1 podiums since the first races in 1950.