Formula 1 has announced it’s scrapping the iconic grid girls ahead of the Australian Grand Prix this year, claiming the practice is no longer appropriate.
For years, each race has started with scantily-clad women standing on the track in front of the cars, but now it’s been claimed it “does not resonate with brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms”.
The decision came just days after the Professional Darts Corporation reportedly banned walk-on girls from accompanying players on to the stage, following pressure and criticism from broadcasters.
“Formula 1 will end the long-standing practice of using walk-on grid girls, commencing with the start of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. These changes also apply to our other motorsports series that take place during the Grands Prix weekends,” a spokesperson for Formula 1 said in a statement.
Meanwhile Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches, added in a statement: “We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.”
F1’s only female team boss, Claire Williams, has backed the move. She told BBC Sports it was “a decision the sport needed to make”. While she recognised the impact grid girls had made in the history of F1, she insisted the brand had to “move with the times”.
Meanwhile the Women’s Sport Trust applauded the decision, and wrote on Twitter: “Thank you F1 for deciding to stop using grid girls. Another sport making a clear choice about what they want to stand for.”
Thank you @F1 for deciding to stop using grid girls. Another sport making a clear choice about what they want to stand for:
“We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.” https://t.co/Rrwxf5VcjY
— Women's Sport Trust (@WomenSportTrust) January 31, 2018
However, not everyone has welcomed the news with open arms. Lauren Jade Pope, who describes herself as a grid girl from Nottingham, wrote on Twitter: “Because of these feminists, they have cost us our jobs! I have been a grid girl for eight years and I have never felt uncomfortable!”
Part-time grid girl Charlotte Gash told BBC Radio 5 Live she was “disgusted” with the choice. She said the job was about more than standing in front of the cars, as she regularly interacted with the crowd too, as well as advertising sponsors.
“It’s upsetting that it has given in to the minority to be politically correct,” she reportedly said. “I’m one of the lucky ones that I don’t rely on this as a main source of income, but there are girls out there who do.
The ban will begin at the start of the F1 season, which kicks off on March 25 in Melbourne.
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