Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld,BMW Sauber, Montreal, 2008

Kubica baffled by Alfa Romeo’s ‘untrue’ Canada 2008 champagne tale

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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Robert Kubica says a story circulated by Alfa Romeo about his sole Formula 1 win in the Canadian Grand Prix 11 years ago is not true.

The team was known as BMW Sauber when Kubica scored his and their only win to date at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2008. Ahead of this weekend’s race Alfa Romeo issued a press release regarding the bottle of champagne Kubica received on the podium.

According to Alfa Romeo, the bottle was not opened, and while for years their staff have been told the bottle remains at Hinwil, it was in fact taken by then-owners BMW to their Munich museum.

However Kubica pointed out the story is “not true” because he opened his bottle on the podium. “Probably who invented the story was not here in 2008,” he said when asked about it yesterday.

“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 because 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…”

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Alfa Romeo’s explanation of what happened to Kubica’s champagne bottle

Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld,BMW Sauber, Montreal, 2008
Kubica spraying his champagne

Flashback. Canada 2008. Robert Kubica and BMW Sauber have just won their first ever Grand Prix in the baking heat of Montreal. It’s a one-two with Nick Heidfeld following Robert home.

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.

It’s a great Sauber story, one that shows the human side of Formula One. It’s a story new starters are told on their first days in the factory.

It’s also not true.

A Canada 2008 winner’s bottle, that is true, is still corked. And it’s in Hinwil. But here is actually an even more fascinating story about that bottle – one that involves politics, passions and jealousies. In the aftermath of that win, a benign row, but a row nonetheless, emerged over the ownership of those spoils of victory. 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. Formula One produced a replica and that went to Switzerland.

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

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 17 comments on “Kubica baffled by Alfa Romeo’s ‘untrue’ Canada 2008 champagne tale”

    1. I had read the Alfa Romeo which is quoted in full and there is no confusion if you read it all the way to the end — they have a replica (un-corked) bottle on display, while BMW has the podium (empty) bottle in their museum.
      What part of the story does RK is not true? That some people (incorrectly) think the bottle on display is from the podium? That Sauber/Alfa prank new employees with that story? That BMW has the empty podium bottle in their museum?
      Or was their an earlier version put out by Alfa Romeo that was all wrong?

      1. It’s this part of the story –

        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.

        1. But then there’s this part of the press release:

          It’s also not true.

          Not clear to me whether Kubica is expressing bafflement at the current press release, or at the fact that Sauber has in the past promulgated the story (as they admit in the release).

    2. Robert is the straighest shooter in F1, a real class act.

    3. This just seems like a story invented so that Alfa can have a rant about BMW.

      1. @eurobrun
        If that’s the case, this has to be the most benign ‘rant’ I’ve ever read.

    4. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      7th June 2019, 8:35

      I understand the confusion. Alfa just needed to clarify that the uncorked replica is at Hinwil and the opened is at BMW’s. Anyway, if you read it carefully, they don’t state that RK didn’t sprayed the champagne: they say that and specify that’s untrue.

    5. I’m super salty at Sauber for not giving him his GP Winning car after promising him it.

      1. I thought he got it, minus engine?

    6. Where there two versions of this press release? I only saw the one quoted here and it was clear, the original bottle Bobby K sprayed on the podium went to Munich and an unopened replica went to Hinwil. A bit of fuss over nothing I think…

      It is odd that they admit that they tell their staff porkies about the bottle in their first days with the team…Sauber have a lot of history, not only in F1, there is no need to fabricate this story.

      1. I think there was only half of the press released published by some outlets. And the next day most put the correct one.

      2. @geemac I only received one version (actually the same version twice!) in which it says Kubica didn’t open his bottle. As he points out and the pictures show, he did.

        1. @keithcollantine Did you miss this line though?

          It’s also not true.

          The press release quite clearly states that the first romantic part claiming “Kubica didn’t open the bottle” is not true.

          They then explain that an unopened replica is in Switzerland and the bottle Kubica opened is in Munich.

    7. Never let facts get in the way of a good story…

      1. like robert was gifted the victory. heidfeld had the race won but a robert victory put sauber at the helm of both championships.

    8. People need to read the press release again. It clearly says that the story of him forgetting to uncork the bottle is not true, it’s just something they tell new starters at the factory because it’s a good story to explain the unopened replica they have because BMW took the real bottle. It does say “A” winning bottle is still unopened at Hinwil, but it never states that it’s Robert’s.

    9. The old expression “Do not let the facts get in the way of a good story.” does not apply here! While we are now used to fake news, this was not worth the effort of picking up a pencil in the first place.
      Alfa are no longer to be joined with Renault, the merger is off. FCA’s best hope is to spring Carlos from the cells in Japan and put him to work to save FCA, but it may be too late! Fond memories of the old guys from ARGB.

    Comments are closed.