Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu gave special permission for a spray of sparkling wine to celebrate the end of the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix in İstanbul on Sunday after the country attracted criticism for giving a soft drink instead of champagne to the winners at the podium last year, according to a journalist.
Valtteri Bottas won the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on Sunday and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second, taking the F1 World Championship lead from Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth. The drivers celebrated their victory by spraying sparkling wine at the podium.
Last year, Turkey attracted criticism when the drivers were given bottles of a soft drink instead of champagne, which was the Formula One’s victory drink until earlier this year, to celebrate their victory, with many social media users complaining that the move made Turkey look more socially conservative than it really is.
Pro-government Hürriyet daily columnist Ertuğrul Özkök wrote on Tuesday that Soylu sent an official letter to the İstanbul Governor’s Office before the Formula One race, telling the office to allow the use of champagne for the victory celebrations at Formula One in İstanbul. Özkök said the Italian wine Prosecco was used at the celebration, which he said can be called “a kind of champagne.”
Özkök based his claim on Vural Ak, the chairman of Intercity, which operates Turkey’s Istanbul Park circuit.
In the meantime, Soylu denied Özkök’s claim in a tweet on Tuesday, saying it was the first time he had heard the details of the Formula One victory celebration.
In a deal announced in March, Formula One said Ferrari Trento was named the official sparkling wine of F1 in a partnership that would last for the next three years.
Bottles of the Italian company’s sparkling wine will be used at the podium after each race, and its products will be available in the F1’s Paddock Club and other official venues, according to the new deal.
While F1’s podium ceremony has traditionally used champagne, it has not been used exclusively throughout its history.
Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) comes under frequent criticism for trying to impose a religious lifestyle on people while limiting the freedoms of non-pious Turks.