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When podiums go wrong: The top 10 most farcical rostrum ceremonies

Tired and emotional celebrity interviewers, political faux pas and reluctant champagne corks

4y ago

Getting a podium ceremony right should be a piece of cake. Hand out three trophies, play a couple of tunes, spray some bubbly and ask the three drivers some boring questions about tyre temperatures.

This however is F1 and if there is a way to over-complicate it or just generally balls it up, somebody will find away.

2016 Spanish Grand Prix – Nice win, whatever your name is

For some time now, random celebrities have come on to the podium to do the post-race interviews.

Some have been rather entertaining (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Captain Picard to name two) while others are cringe-inducingly awful and then there are those who seem to have been chosen based purely on the fact they were there.

Some of this latter group, no names mentioned, appear surprised and unprepared and seemingly the worse for wear after just a little too much time spent in hospitality.

One interview, that is memorable for all the wrong reasons, was opera singer, Plácido Domingo in Spain 2016 (somebody must have offered him a tenor) who made debut race winner, Max Verstappen, feel so important and loved by calling him Marcus.

Marcus- I mean Max, doesn't look too impressed

Marcus- I mean Max, doesn't look too impressed

Then the Spanish warbler suddenly went all a bit parochial, making a big deal about congratulating the two Spaniards in the race, Carlos Sainz, who came in sixth and Fernando Alonso, whose Honda engine did its usual party trick and booted him out of the race on lap 45. To finish off this increasingly awkward spectacle, Plácido then went on to congratulate Barcelona United for winning a game of footie, with Marcus, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel looking on with bemusement.

Thankfully, it ended there and back off to the Paddock Club he went, much to the relief of all concerned.

2006 Turkish Grand Prix - You’re the President of where?

F1 doesn’t do world politics, apart from when Bernie Ecclestone chooses to praise some dictator or other, and the rulebook on keeping things neutral is there to avoid any potential conflict.

However, the organisers of the 2006 round in Turkey said stuff that and invited on to the podium to present Felipe Massa with the winner’s trophy, one Mehmet Ali Talat, announced to all as the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Only one problem with that, there is no such country, well there is in Turkey’s eyes, since they’d nabbed it during some unpleasantness in 1974, but nobody else recognises it.

So, watching the race at home, the President of Cyprus promptly had a fit and a complaint was made. The FIA were none too pleased and duly fined the organisers $5 million.

Still, they got off pretty lightly. When the Mayor of Jerez disrupted the podium ceremony at the 1997 European Grand Prix, he and the organisers were hauled over the coals by Max Mosley and that was the last time F1 raced there.

1989 Brazilian Grand Prix – This could only happen to Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell was no stranger to the circuit medical centre, of course a seriously hard charger like Il Leone was always going to be involved in some hefty shunts but he was remarkably accident prone out of the car too.

Who can forget the painful sight of him whacking his head on a low bridge while being driven to the podium at the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix, followed by the hilarious moment when Murray Walker prodded the bump hard with his finger, just to see how much it hurt.

But probably his most bizarre injury came after what had so far been an incredible day, winning in Brazil 1989 on his Ferrari debut. Picking up a vastly over-sized winner’s trophy, our Nige managed to slice open his hand on it. Wincing in pain and bleeding profusely, he staggered off the podium and went off in urgent search of a band aid.

1977 Austrian Grand Prix – But it isn’t my birthday!

Like the aforementioned Verstappen, who’s debut win was spoilt a little by a bit of ineptness, Alan Jones too had his first win podium cock-up. Driving for the Shadow-Ford team and starting from 14th on the grid, Jones was an unlikely winner.

It was the only win in the eight year F1 history for the team and he was the first Australian to win a Grand Prix in seven years.

All of which probably contributed to the fact the organisers had no tape of the Aussie national anthem to hand. What to do?

How about get a random trumpet player from the crowd to help. Great idea, except that finding a drunk Austrian, who can crack out a decent rendition of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was always going to be a tough ask, in fact, he only knew the one tune, which was ‘Happy Birthday to You’ and even then that didn't sound right.

Thankfully, the anthem was found and they got the last few bars played. At least they tried.

1977 Japanese Grand Prix – Podium ceremonies are overrated anyway…

Clearly, 1977 was a bit of a classic year for odd podiums as the season ending Japanese Grand Prix shows. Now you’d think, that being an F1 driver, stepping on to the podium in front of your adoring fans and hard-working team members would be the icing on the cake?

Not it would appear if you are James Hunt. Having won the race for McLaren, James had two options, leg it to the airport and make the last flight home or go through the podium procedure and go the next day. Hunt took the first option, which even for him was a bit unconventional to say the least.

Second placed, Carlos Reutemann, on seeing James making a bolt for the exit thought he may as well go too, thus leaving third placed Patrick Depailler to take to the podium, with a man dressed as a giant spark plug. Shambolic doesn’t come into it…

2013 Belgian Grand Prix – Polar Podium Protest

As anybody knows, getting into an F1 paddock is like trying to break into Fort Knox.

Getting anywhere near somewhere like the podium is impossible, so the chances of a protest being made there (with the exception of our Turkish friends) is about zero.

So, what was required at Spa 2013 was a clever, concerted and well organised plan, which remarkably, Greenpeace were able to pull off.

Concerned about (race sponsor) Shell being unkind to polar bears in the Arctic, the protesters unfurled several banners at points around the circuit including a giant one from the start-finish grandstand. Of course, FOM simply did not film this and pointed the cameras elsewhere.

This was where their masterplan came in, as weeks before, they had installed a pair of remote controlled banners that unfurled during the podium ceremony. There was no way the camera’s could avoid this one.

The sight of a hugely embarrassed FOM official, removing one banner as another unfolded behind him, is truly one of the funniest things you’ll see.

Agree with Greenpeace or not, you have to say that was pure genius.

Honourable mentions

- Brazil 2003, where not one driver was in the correct podium position

Kimi should have been in second, Fisi should have been on the top step, and Alonso should have been in third

Kimi should have been in second, Fisi should have been on the top step, and Alonso should have been in third

- Malaysia 2013, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel on an extremely tense podium following Multi-21

- Austria 2002 and a $1m fine for Ferrari after an embarrassed Michael Schumacher gives Rubens Barrichello the winner’s trophy after a blatant race fix

- The 1989 San Marino event, where neither Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost or Alessandro Nannini could get the champagne bottles open. (Keep watching this clip to the end...)

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