The podium finishers of the inaugural Formula E race in India on Saturday will not get to 'pop the champagne', a decades-old tradition in motorsport, as part of the victory celebrations. Instead, they will have to make do with confetti cannons.
Keeping the 'local customs' in mind, all stakeholders of the Hyderabad race – promoters Greenko, Telangana government, Formula E and the series champagne sponsor Moet & Chandon – have decided to not use the bubbly on the podium, PTI has learnt. The use of champagne on the podium dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. Spraying the sparkling wine on the podium has become synonymous with the widely followed Formula 1.
Five-time Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio was awarded a bottle of Moet & Chandon at the 1950 French Grand Prix and he opened it on the podium. However, champagne was sprayed for the first time in 1966 when Jo Siffert would "accidentally" pop the cork on the crowd to celebrate his win in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The rest, as they, is history.
The last of Sebastian Vettel's four world titles was sealed with a win in the 2013 Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida and not only he celebrated with champagne on the podium, he even took the big bottle with himself to the customary media interaction post the race.
Replacing the champagne with a non-alcoholic beverage is usually seen in races organised in the Arab world including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen had not taken part in the victory celebrations in Saudi Arabia during the epic 2021 season where his title fight went down to the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi.
He had told Sky Sports that he left because "it wasn't fun" as there was no champagne on the podium.
Formula E also respects the local tradition and customs too and that was the reason why the previous round in Saudi Arabia had confetti canons for celebration instead of champagne. The same was decided for the inaugural Formula E race in Muslim majority Indonesia last year.
Alcohol advertising is banned in India but barring a few states, it is sold in massive quantities around the country. Back in 2020, it was reported that five South Indian states -- Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala -- consumed half of India's total liquor consumption.
The total consumption of alcoholic beverages in the country was 5 billion litres.