Former F1 model calls decision to ban grid girls

Posted February 05, 2018

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.

There's understandably been some public frustration among women who make money contracting as models for auto races.

Among those who have lashed out at Formula One are Bernie Ecclestone, the 87-year-old chairman emeritus of the Formula One group who was replaced as the group's chief executive in January of 2017, and several "Grid Girls" themselves.

An ex-Formula One model and former Miss England finalist claim that the recent decision to ban female models from being so-called grid girls next season is an example of "feminism has gone too far".

"I feel the majority of girls in this industry would agree there is not a problem, the only problem is now with these recent decisions", she added.

Grid girls are hired to carry out promotional work at the F1 and wear clothes representing the sponsors of the event.

Regarding part of the decision being that it made it harder for women to progress elsewhere within the sport, the Austrian blasted: "How dumb can someone be?" This is not doing any favours to F1 and especially not for women. Women are stepping up (into senior team roles), and they are doing it very well - it is moving in the right direction.

"But one does not exclude the other". "They were necessary really", Ecclestone said, "because when the team driver wants to get on to the grid, it's much better and easier for them to know their place where they need to stop".

"If you continue on this path, there will be no cheerleaders left in America".

But Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at F1, said on Wednesday: "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".

"I can't see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula One auto can be offensive to anybody".

With the recent #MeToo campaign and the resulting closer focus on equality in all areas of society, it's ultimately unlikely that we will see grid girls reappear in the near future, at least in their previous form.