When Sebastian Vettel claimed the winner’s trophy at the India Grand Prix, there was one more winner with him on the podium, says Soni Sangwan. It was a tall, dark, cool and frothy individual, stylishly outfitted in black with the trade-mark Cordon Rouge. Vettel has shared space with this winner at every Formula One victory. In fact, the drivers on the winner’s podium have changed over the years, but this winner has remained constant since 1950 (officially since 2000) and is none other than, G H Mumm, the champagne associated with victory. Pictured: Sebastian Vettel celebrating victory
Vettel was merely following tradition when he sprayed the pretty pit girls from a jeroboam of Mumm at the second Indian Grand Prix. However, according to insiders, before Mumm could make an appearance, there was a lot of ‘cordon rouge’ or bureaucratic red-tape to negotiate. Given our excise laws, the bottles of Mumm had to be ‘exported’ from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh, the venue of the Formula One races. A special hologram had to be obtained from the UP State Excise Department at Allahabad and affixed on the bottles, and only then were they presented at the winner’s podium. One thousand bottles of champagne were consumed at the Formula One Paddock Lounge at the Gautam Buddh Formula One Circuit, Greater Noida, over the race weekend according to sources.
Mumm has been on the victor’s podium at the Reims-Gueux circuit in the Champagne district of France since 1950. Till 1966, every Formula One winner was presented with a bottle of Mumm Champagne. But the tradition of spraying onlookers took off, quite by accident, in 1966. Jo Siffert had just won in the gruelling 24 hours category at the Le Mans race. When he was presented the bottle of Mumm, the cork popped out and on reflex, Siffert turned the bottle away, spraying the onlookers. The next year, Dan Gurney continued the popping and spraying and a tradition was born.
Now, G H Mumm produces a special Jeroboam only for Formula One. This is a three-litre bottle with the trade-mark Cordon Rouge or red ribbon and the winner’s wreath with the number one nestled in between. The Cordon Rouge is meant to symbolise the principle of “Only the Best” espoused by Georges Hermann Mumm, who gave the initials to the company he founded. It represents the red ribbon of the highest French honour, the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint Louis. The jeroboam for Formula One comes in a special case, coated in carbon fibre that protects it. A separate bag made of metal and carbon fibre is also used as a jeroboam cooler.
G.H. Mumm, the official Champagne of Formula 1, is distributed in India by Pernod Ricard India