Kubica, Alfa Romeo and the champagne bottle

Michelle Foster

Robert Kubica, Alfa and the champagne bottle

Alfa Romeo have the bottle of champagne handed to Robert Kubica when he won the 2008 Canadian GP uncorked and on display at their Hinwil factory. Only they don’t, says Kubica.

This is how the story goes after Kubica won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix ahead of BMW-Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld, at least how it goes according to a press release from the team now known as Alfa Romeo Racing.

“The team crowd under the podium as the Polish anthem rings in the air. Some are shedding tears. Up there, Robert punches the air. He’s got his trophy. He smiles. There’s only one thing left to do – the champagne.

“Emotion is a funny thing, though. In the excitement of the moment of his first win, Robert forgets to uncork his bottle.

“No spray from him – and that’s why his winner’s bottle remains, to this day, the only one of our 27 podium bottle with the cork still on, proudly displayed in our team base in Hinwil.”

That, though, isn’t the truth according to the man himself.

Asked about the story as he prepared to once again take to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a F1 car, Kubica told RaceFans.net: “Probably [the person] who invented the story was not here in 2008.

“I got asked by our media people to comment it because they want to do a press release. I Googled a picture or video from the podium and screenshot it and sent it back. So probably now the story is a bit different.

“It’s funny but it’s difficult for me to comment on something that had a completely different outcome.

“I’m happy to be positive and I’m happy for those people because many people which are working in Alfa they have been there when I was here so I think it has been a positive moment not only for myself but also for those people.

“I really hope one day they will have more open champagne bottles from victory in the factory than only mine and I wish them all the best.

“In the end I know they have been through different periods with good years but also Sauber has also been in difficult periods in the past and they always recover. It shows how united they are and how strong their group is.

“Then from a marketing point of view, I think they didn’t play it properly. Or the other way, they played it properly because we are talking about it…”

However, Alfa Romeo have acknowledged that the champagne story isn’t true, it is a fable told to new staff members on their first day.

“It’s a great Sauber story, one that shows the human side of Formula 1. It’s a story new starters are told on their first days in the factory,” the team told Motorsport.com. “It’s also not true.”

In fact even the champagne bottle on display at the team’s headquarters isn’t the real one as BMW, who owned the team at the time, won the battle to keep the original.

The team continued: “Sauber and BMW both wanted to keep the memento, the vessel of the sweetest champagne we had ever tasted.

“We pleaded and begged but alas, on the occasion, it was the German giant that won ‘The Battle of the Bottle’: the original is proudly displayed in their Munich museum to this day.

“On the day, we chose to relinquish this precious memory to our partner. That’s what we did, with magnanimity and style. To go on building more great memories in the future.

“The trophy, that one we kept. From then on, we called it: “The one we didn’t even give them a sniff of.”

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