Formula 1 calls time on 'outdated' grid girls
Formula 1 will no longer make use of controversial so-called ‘grid girls’ from the 2018 season onwards.
The sport has long employed female models to accompany the cars on the starting grid before races, often bearing the branding of a sponsor, and carrying out other promotional tasks.
However, the custom is being abandoned at grands prix and supporting events this year, as Liberty Media, the US media giant, which acquired Formula 1 at the start of 2017, makes changes to attract new audiences and lead the business into a new era.
In a statement, Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at Formula 1, said: “Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport.
"While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”
The move, which had been mooted, has received the support of race organisers, including Stuart Pringle, the managing director of British circuit Silverstone, who said: “We wholeheartedly support the decision by F1 to drop the use of grid girls – it is an outdated practice that no longer has a place in sport.”
However, there has been criticism from many Formula 1 fans on social media, with some claiming that grid girls are being deprived of glamorous work in the name of political correctness.
Caroline Hall, a former grid girl who now owns an agency providing staff for promotional events, told UK radio station BBC Radio 5 live: “I think it’s sad they’ve taken such extreme measures so quickly. I think they could have looked at ways of bringing the role more into line with modern times instead of scrapping it entirely. They could have looked at making it more equal between the sexes in the role.”
The 2018 Formula 1 season starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 25 March.