02242018

Formula 1: ‘Grid girls’ will not be used at races this season

Grid girls at the Mexican Grand Prix

60% of respondents to a BBC Sport vote in December said ‘grid girls’ should be part of Formula 1

‘Grid girls’ will no longer be used by Formula 1 from the start of the 2018 World Championship season, organisers have announced.

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”.

F1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn told BBC Radio 5 live in December that the use of female promotional models was “under review”.

The new F1 season begins on 25 March.

“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 added.

“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

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circuit Silverstone, said: “We wholeheartedly support the decision by F1 to drop the use of grid girls – it is an outdated practice that no longer has a place in sport.”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 said walk-on girls will no longer 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.”

In December, BBC Sport carried out a vote on whether ‘grid girls’ should be part of Formula 1, with 60% saying that they should be.

What did they actually do?

‘Grid girls’ are models used to conduct certain promotional tasks, usually wearing 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 in Melbourne on 25 March.

Grid girls line up for the Canadian GP<!–

Grid girls line up for the Canadian Grand Prix in 2005

Analysis

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

Formula 1 will no longer use ‘grid girls’ – and the reaction to that move will inevitably be mixed.

Some have already bemoaned the decision, saying it is a regrettable break with what they see as a fundamentally harmless tradition and an inevitable diminution of the sport’s so-called “glamour”.

Others will say that in 2018, at a time when the objectification of women in western culture is increasingly coming under the spotlight, it is not before time.

F1 entered a new era last year, when new American owners removed its octogenarian – and notoriously reactionary and politically incorrect – boss Bernie Ecclestone and replaced him with a new corporate structure aimed at making the sport fit for the 21st century.

Society is living through a defining moment in sexual politics. It is the time of #MeToo, and revelations of sexual harassment and worse by powerful men.

Some will see this decision as tokenistic and unnecessary. But the likelihood is that the vast majority of those people will be men.

In that context, it feels like an appropriate decision for the times, and one that F1 had to make.

What Next?

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