The End Of Grid Girls? Banned From The Formula 1 2018 World Championship
There's bad news afoot for fans of grid girls. Formula 1 has announced they will no longer use grid girls from the start of the 2018 World Championship season, which begins 25th March.
Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations, said the change would be made "so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport".
'Grid girls' are models used to conduct certain promotional tasks and usually wear clothing that bears the name of a sponsor.
Their duties in F1 included holding umbrellas or driver name-boards on the grid and lining the corridor through which the drivers walk on their way to the podium.
Their use has become the subject of debate as social attitudes have changed, and some races have begun to experiment with alternatives, such as using male models instead of female, or children as mascots.
The first race of the season is the Australian Grand Prix takes place in Melbourne on 25th March.
The decision behind the continued use of female promotional models was "under review" in December, according to comments made by F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn on BBC Radio 5 live.
"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," Bratches said.
"We don't believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world."
So could this decision affect the sport of motorcycle racing as well? Quite possibly.
Stuart Pringle, managing director of British circuit Silverstone, said: "We wholeheartedly support the decision by F1 to drop the use of grid girls - it is an outdated practice that no longer has a place in sport."
Last week, the Professional Darts Corporation confirmed walk-on girls were no longer going to be used at events.
Soon after, the Women's Sport Trust tweeted: "We applaud the Professional Darts Corporation moving with the times and deciding to no longer use walk-on-girls. Motor racing, boxing and cycling... your move."
Series and Race Director of the British Superbike Championship, Stuart Higgs tweeted in reply to @tammygorali:
The 1st generation of grid ladies were wives and GF of drivers and riders, once marketing and greed took over it came to be the as today, women as a marketing tool. If family values are not part of the @OfficialBSB then there is another problem. https://t.co/ICGzBBRzzP— tammy gorali (@tammygorali) January 31, 2018
So if we follow the trend I have to tell Mrs Byrne, Mrs Haslam, Mrs Bridewell, Mrs Laverty, Miss Baker & others that I am banning them from the grid this year as we feel their presence does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.— Stuart Higgs (@stuarthiggs) January 31, 2018
It remains the case in our championship that it is mostly wives and girlfriends fulfilling this grid presence to support their partner, rather than being a "tool". So rest assured no attack on family values. Indeed, our events are extremely well attended by families.— Stuart Higgs (@stuarthiggs) January 31, 2018