Formula 1 Announces It Will Stop Using Grid Girls Starting with 2018 Season

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2018

FILE - A Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 file photo of Britain's Sam Bird from DS Virgin Racing competing during the Formula E Hong Kong ePrix auto race in Hong Kong. Formula E has signed a title sponsorship worth more than $100 million with Swiss technology company ABB. The seven-year contract through 2025 for the electric-powered motorsport series was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2017, in London. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
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Formula 1 has officially announced the decision to no longer use grid girls, beginning with the 2018 season. Managing Director of Commercial Operations Sean Birches explained the decision, per the F1 official website:

"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."

"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."

The changes will be enforced once the new season begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25.

Formula 1's decision comes after PDC Darts recently announced walk-on girls would no longer feature at tournaments, per BBC Sport.

At the time, walk-on girl Charlotte Wood bemoaned the decision during an interview with BBC Radio 5 live:

BBC Radio 5 live @bbc5live

More than 12,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate walk-on girls at @OfficialPDC events. @Charl0ttewood told @TherealNihal her “rights are being taken away” and darts accounts for 60% of her income. https://t.co/QmvMiaZRme

Part-time grid girl Charlotte Gash expressed a similar reaction to BBC Radio 5 live over F1's decision:

BBC Radio 5 live @bbc5live

“Essentially we’ve all been made redundant” Part-time 'grid girl' Charlotte Gash on the decision by #F1 to stop using 'walk-on grid girls'. @TherealNihal @SJBretty https://t.co/7bmvtglwO2

However, national charity Women's Sports Trust applauded the choice, particularly in its adherence to modern social conventions, echoing the language used by Bratches:

Women's Sport Trust @WomenSportTrust

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

There has been opposition to the moves, but it's possible this is just the start of the sporting world's efforts to address concerns about the portrayal of women at their events.


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