It’s a well-known fact that motorsports fans will show loyalty to a sponsor they see racing around the track each week. And traditionally those sponsors want their brand or product displayed on the car, or on signage around the track, in order to be seen and can gain those loyal fans.
There is a new sponsor however, using an unusual avenue with its motorsport’s sponsorship.
In Formula 1, like most of the top auto racing series around the world, winning drivers celebrate in victory lane with champagne. In F1 the top three finishers share the podium ending the celebration by spraying champagne. At least they did until this season. Prior to the 2021 season, F1 announced that the traditional champagne used in victory lane would be replaced with, sparkling wine.
You would think that something that’s sprayed from a bottle during a victory lane celebration would be almost an afterthought. Turns out, it’s not. In fact, it’s a pretty big deal. In more ways than one.
For most of F1’s history champagne has been the celebratory beverage of choice, with the sponsorship coming from either Moet or Mumm. In 2016 sparkling wine producer Chandon took over; the following season it was champagne yet again, this time from Carbon.
Moving forward, for the next three years, at least, Ferrari Trento will be the “Official Sparkling Wine of Formula 1.”
Based in Trentino in the Italian Alps, Ferrari Trento was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari and since 1952 run by the Lunelli family. They bottle “Trentodoc”; fermented sparkling wines produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.
Wine is indeed a big business. Last year revenue from the global wine market was 340.8 billion U.S. dollars and it’s estimated that will increase to 528.7 billion dollars by 2025. Being one of the most award-winning producers in the world, it would be easy for Ferrari Trento to rest on its accolades, so why join the motorsports arena?
“This partnership is important because it will give us access to an extraordinary and unique stage over the next three years that will allow us to bring our Trentodoc bubbles to new and familiar markets around the world,” said Ferrari Trento CEO Matteo Lunelli.
Lunelli added that their wines have been part of the Emmy Awards and part of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team at the America’s Cup. “This partnership is also extremely relevant because it highlights the worldwide recognition of the quality of our wine and the renown and appeal that our brand enjoys internationally.”
The partnership goes beyond victory lane, however. Ferrari Trento will be part of the hospitality area at tracks and will be present in restaurants, hotels, and bars in the host city each race weekend throughout the season.
The discussions with F1 began in 2019 during the Italian Grand Prix weekend in Monza. Monza is where Lunelli saw his first F1 race as a child with his father. Ironically, with the first two F1 races being in the Middle East where no alcohol is allowed, this year’s third F1 race was in Italy and it was there that Ferrari Trento’s wine first appeared. That is only the beginning, however. The company is forward thinking and the F1 partnership is a strategic one for Ferrari Trento.
“We will not measure the return in the short term,” Lunelli said. “Our strength as a family-owned business means we can look to strategize with a view to the horizon. This long-term view goes hand-in-hand with the nature of the wines that we create; they require a lot of time and patience (sometimes more than ten years) to reach their full potential and quality. We therefore decided to make such an important investment because we are confident it will make the difference in the long term for the growth of Ferrari Trento internationally. Anyway, we are already getting very good signals from all our international partners and we see growing interest from many retailers and clients around the world.”
Motorsports fans can be a fickle lot, especially when it comes to traditions. One of the most iconic of those is the smell of champagne in victory lane. Formula 1 however is all about innovation, not only in the racecars.
“They decided with an open mind to go “beyond” the traditional choice of Champagne,” Lunelli said. “It is by now evident among wine opinion leaders that in the sparkling wine space, just like in the still wine space, excellence is not a monopoly of one territory in the world. Many can aspire to the highest levels of quality, each with its own identity. Italy, with the region of Trentino in particular, is in “pole position.” At the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, Ferrari Trento has been crowned the “Producer of the Year” for three editions.
“F1 wanted to go in a new direction, specifically with a brand that not only offers a century of heritage and a guarantee of quality but is also an ambassador of Italian lifestyle, which is appreciated around the world.”
Nascar is among the other motorsports that has used a bottle of champagne in its victory lane. Might that bottle change? Lunelli said Ferrari Trento isn’t looking at any other motorsport the focus will be on F1, for now, at least.
“For us this a strong commitment,” Lunelli said. “We need to activate the partnership appropriately in all the 23 Grand Prix cities around the world, especially in the most important markets for us.”
So when the next F1 podium celebration finishes up and the empty bottles are left, F1 fans can understand that deciding who filled them wasn’t just an afterthought, it was in fact a pretty big deal.