Why do racing drivers celebrate by spraying champagne?


This weekend Max Verstappen, the new F1 racing prodigy, did the unthinkable. After being promoted from Torro Rosso to the main team: Red Bull he managed to win his ever first F1 race in that car. An unbelievable achievement for the 18 year old. standing on the top spot of the podium spraying his champage. Just 8 months earlier he wasn’t even legally allowed to drink champagne. Nor did he have his drivers license for that matter. But seeing him, smiling on the podium, celebrating and being sprayed with champagne by Sebastian Vettel… …. made me wonder. Why do they spray champagne after races? It turns out this custom (mostly done in racing, but also seen in other sports, like cycling) is the product of an unfortunate accident. The connection between champagne and racing started in the 1950s. The great Fangio won the France GP and received, as a gift, a bottle of champagne from a famous local producer. Other race organiser noticed this and also started to add champagne as a post-race gift Drivers politely thanked the organiser and sipped some of this lovely champagne. All of this changed in 1966. Jo Siffert, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, received a faulty bottle. The bottle had a weak cork and had been sitting in the warm sun for a couple of hours. During the anthem, the cork shot out. An unexpected champagne shower was offered to the crowd. A very unfortunate incident… Next year Jo Siffert was again on the podium of Le Mans, and so was the talented Dan Gurney. Dan was a bit of a prankster and decided to recreate the scene from the previous year by shaking his champagne bottle until the cork popped. The public loved it. And coincidently one of the first people to get sprayed was Jo Siffert himself, standing next to Dan. Thanks to Dan Gurney and Jo Siffert a new tradition was born. More facts! Did you know the current F1 bottles are not really champagne? For the 2016 season champagne sponsor Mumm left and they’ve been replaced by Chandon. Because Chandon isn’t from the France ‘Champagne’ region their drink can’t officially be called champagne So instead it is being called an “exclusive vibrant sparkling wine”. Some of the are held in Islamic countries that prohibit alcohol. There are no alcoholic sponsons on the cars. And champagne or sparkling wine are also out of the question. Instead they use a non-alcoholic fizzy rose-water. In 1978 the Canadian legend Gilles Villeneuve won his first race, the season-ending home grandprix of Canada. And on the podium Villeneuve was handed an oversized bottle of the local Labatt beer instead of the usual champagne. So he treated his fellow Canadian spectators on a foamy beer shower. And now you know.

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