F1 toasts new champagne supplier Carbon and prepared to bide time in China
Champagne is to return to motor racing’s Formula 1 after the series signed up luxury high-tech brand Carbon as its champagne sponsor.
Under the deal, the length of which was not disclosed, Carbon becomes the official champagne of Formula 1, which has not had a champagne supplier since 2015.
Mumm, the Pernod Ricard-owned champagne brand, was a Formula 1 sponsor for 15 years, but it was reported that a €5-million ($5.8-million) offer for the renewal of its sponsorship was rejected by the series following the end of the 2015 season.
Chandon, a sparkling wine drink owned by the Moët Hennessy group, stepped in to supply the celebration bottles at the podiums for the 2016 campaign and some of this season, until Carbon made its debut at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix in May.
Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations, Formula 1, commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Champagne Carbon as one of our partners. Tradition, mystique, celebration and taste are common characteristics of both Formula 1 and Champagne Carbon.
“The unique feature of a bottle made with carbon, the material so representative of the amazing technology in our sport, is a further element that makes Champagne Carbon the perfect product for the drivers to celebrate with on a Formula 1 Grand Prix podium. We are excited about this partnership, which I am sure will develop as we go forward and bring exceptional products to F1 fans.”
Meanwhile, Formula 1’s immediate priority in China is to find the right technology platforms to develop the sport there rather than have a second race in the country, according to the sport’s top official.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Formula 1 had brought in Lagardère Sports, the international sports management agency, to attract new commercial partners in what is a key market.
This had prompted further talk of an extra Chinese round, to join the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, a fixture on the calendar since 2004.
However, Chase Carey, the chairman and chief executive of Formula 1, believes this will be some way down the road.
Speaking to Reuters on Friday ahead of the weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Carey said: “I think it’s much more holistic than ‘is it one or two races?’ I think that’s putting the cart before the horse.
"It starts with 'what are the right relationships to have to develop the Chinese market and with them develop the extensions and capability to connect with the marketplace and Chinese fans in the right way?' Could you have a second race? Yes. But those are discussions to be had down the road."
He added that the focus for the next six months would be on developing a strategy for developing Formula 1 in China.
Carey said: "The technology in our sport and the stars make it a great sport to resonate with the Chinese partner, we just need to build the platforms to connect with them in the right way.
He continued: "The important thing is going to be 'how do we take whatever events we have, and all the things we create around the event, and enable 1.3 billion Chinese to connect with them?'," he said.
"I think a second race... in the priorities of developing the China market, it's like priority five or six.
In a recent interview with Sportcal Insight, Zak Brown, the executive director of the McLaren team, said that in the wake of the Malaysian Grand Prix dropping off the calendar for 2018, there was scope for at least one more race in Asia, plus another in USA and one in South America, albeit he added: “I don’t think Europe requires any more.”
Next year’s Chinese Grand Prix and Singapore Grand Prix are presently listed on the schedule as “subject to commercial rights holder confirmation.”
However, Carey said on Friday he was having “good conversations” with the organisers of both races about their events.
Ferrari’s German driver Sebastian Vettel (pictured) won yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix to extend his lead in the drivers' world championship to 14 points.
German free-to-air commercial broadcaster RTL's live coverage of the race drew an average of 5.7 million viewers, an audience share of 39 per cent. The share among the target audience of 14-to-49-year-olds was 25.4 per cent.