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2018 F1

‘Grid girl’ hits out at F1 over controversial scrapping

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Grid girls Formula 1 2017 Japanese Grand Prix

Formula 1 to stop using of grid girls who parade and stand with the drivers’ name boards before every grand prix, with instant effect.

Ross Brawn, F1 managing director for motorsport, gave notice last December that the use of female models on the grid was under review for the season starting in Australia on March 25.

“There’s a lot of people respect the tradition of the grid girls and there’s people who feel that it has become a bit dated, so we’re addressing that,” he told the BBC at the time.

F1 press release announcing the decision – “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,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1.

“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.”

Last week the Professional Darts Corporation announced that walk-on girls will no longer be used.

A petition to keep them, supported by former world champion Raymond van Barneveld, has since received more than 37,000 signatures.

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.

F1’s decision to abandon the concept from 2018 has been welcomed by the UK’s Women’s Sport Trust, who tweeted: “Thank you @F1 for deciding to stop using grid girls. Another sport making a clear choice about what they want to stand for.”

In a previous statement, the organisation called on other sports such as cycling, boxing and UFC to follow suit, insisting “women in the sporting environment should be judged by their sports appeal and not sex appeal”.

Charlotte Gash is a part-time grid girl, who says she is “disgusted” with F1’s decision.

“It’s upsetting and I’m rather disgusted that F1 have given in to the minority to be politically correct,” Gash told BBC Radio 5 live.

“There are about 50 girls involved in each race. So you can see how many girls are now out of work.”

“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.

“I know the grid girls are there to look pretty when they’re out on the grid but my role was interacting with the crowd and we were there as an advertisement for the sponsors. We love doing it we don’t want it taken away from us.”

The 23-year-old was on the podium following Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the British Grand Prix in 2017.

“The experience I received at Silverstone was out of this world. It was something you could only dream of doing. Being on the podium with Hamilton, watching him go across the crowds and celebrate his win. It is something that I am never going to experience again.”

Caroline Hall is another former gird girl, who now owns an agency providing staff for promotional events.

She told 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 question is ‘what are people offended by? Are they offended by the role, that there is somebody standing there with sponsors over their clothing or is it the fact that it’s only women doing it?'”

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