F1: Do drivers spray champagne at Azerbaijan GP? What beverage do they spray from the podium?

Kyle Archer June 6, 2021
Photo by SEBASTIEN NOGIER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

F1: Do drivers spray champagne at the Azerbaijan GP? What beverage do they spray from the podium? F1 shifts from the city streets of Monte Carlo to Baku, but there won’t be any champagne for the winner.

Formula One heads to Baku for the return of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 6 June.

Valtteri Bottas won the last running of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for Mercedes in 2019, finishing ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas and Hamilton will be hoping to match their previous fortunes after a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix for the Silver Arrows saw the Finnish driver’s race end during a pit stop.

Meanwhile, the World Champion finished more than a minute behind the winner – Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

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No champagne in Formula One

Champagne is the traditional choice for celebrations and is steeped in Formula One history. Drivers have traditionally been awarded a magnum of champagne as a reward for winning a Grand Prix or finishing on the podium.

But it is no longer the drink of choice for motorsport’s pinnacle series.

F1 agreed a three-year partnership with Italian brand Ferrari Trento from the 2021 season as the sport’s official sparkling wine.

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The Italian company’s product is used after all races on the Formula One calendar, replacing champagne producer Carbon, but is not the first sparkling wine to be used.

F1 agreed a deal with Carbon midway through the 2017 season to replace Chandon, whose sparkling wines were used from the start of 2016 after several decades with Moet or Mumm champagne.

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What do drivers spray on podium at the Azerbaijan GP?

While official partnerships with Chandon and Ferrari Trento have seen sparkling wine become the drink of choice for Formula One during the past five years, the sport had also previously shelved champagne in respect to local traditions and restrictions.

Following the introduction of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the winners of the event were presented with bottles of Waard.

Waard is a traditional non-alcoholic drink made from rosewater and pomegranates. It remains the go-to whenever Formula One visits the Sakhir International Circuit or in Baku.

Rosewater is also used for the now traditional season-ending round in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Alcohol is only permitted to be consumed in private homes or in licensed areas.

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Why does Formula One not use champagne any more?

The sale of alcohol isn’t banned in countries such as Azerbaijan, Singapore, Bahrain or Abu Dhabi as it is in Saudi Arabia.

However, Formula One is still restricted in what they are allowed to promote while racing at circuits such as Sakhir.

F1 teams are prohibited from displaying any logos of alcohol producers on their car or team items when racing in certain Middle Eastern countries.

The champagne or sparkling wine is therefore switched out for rosewater.

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When did the tradition of spraying champagne start?

F1 drivers being awarded a bottle of champagne after winning a Grand Prix or finishing a race on the podium pre-dates the tradition of spraying the bottle to celebrate.

The tradition of spraying the drink is thought to have started in 1966. When Swiss driver Jo Siffert was presented with a bottle of Moet after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the bottle had become pressurised after being exposed to the sun, causing the spray.

Champagne then exploded from the bottle once Siffert uncorked his Moet, splashing the other drivers and members of the team. This gave birth to the tradition.

Current F1 driver Lando Norris has established his own tradition for smashing the bottle into the ground to cause an eruption in the bottle.

Daniel Ricciardo is known to pour the drink into his race-worn boot and drink a ‘shoey’ on the podium.

Photo by Miguel Medina – Pool/Getty Images
Kyle is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from Bournemouth University, who has covered Premier League, EFL and European football for a number of years for online publications.