Retiring The Use Of ‘Grid Girls’ Is Another Triumph For The Modernisation Of Formula One

Article By 
Isaac Forcella
February 2, 2018

Retiring The Use Of ‘Grid Girls’ Is Another Triumph For The Modernisation Of Formula One

Article By 
Isaac Forcella
February 2, 2018

The latest story out of Formula One is the news that ‘Grid girls’ will no longer be used, come the 2018 season. The Managing Director of Commercial Operations within the sport, Sean Bratches, said in a statement that the decision had been made “so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport”. This follows Ross Brawn, F1’s Managing Director of Motorsports, stating that the use of female promotional models was “under review” back in December.

“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 out brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.” Added Bratches.
The role of 'grid girls' is to stand on the grid at the beginning of the race and hold a sign showing a driver's number and nationality.

Fortunately, most people saw this move as positive, with plenty of messages of support posted all over social media. However, there was of course also a very vocal group who were adamantly against the removal of ‘grid girls’. The main argument this group made was that the decision took away employment opportunities for young women who enjoy modelling and want to do so at these events.

The issue with this argument, is that it completely misses the point as to why grid girls have been dropped. Nobody is denying that these women want to model at races. It’s a great modelling job and has a proven track record of launching careers with the likes of Kelly Brook starting out as an F1 ‘grid girl’. Perks like travelling to exotic locations only sweeten the deal.

The point being made with this decision is that the job itself should not exist. A serious sport really shouldn’t begin with 20 women wearing incredibly revealing, incredibly sexualised clothes being flaunted out onto the track for all to gawk at. They are not necessary in any sense, given how recognisable each team and driver on the grid is and advancements in on screen graphics. There is no need for somebody to stand with a sign to tell everyone watching which car is which. What you are left with then, is a tradition of taking a break before races start to salivate over promiscuously dressed women.

The other issue with ‘grid girls’ is that they go against all of Liberty Media’s efforts to modernise Formula One, particularly with public perception of the sport as being male dominated. Having ‘grid girls’ often times delegitimises women in the sport to onlookers.

The decision to drop the use of ‘grid girls’ follows other efforts made by F1 bosses to bring the sport into the 21st century. Loosening social media rules for teams and drivers, as well as fans at races was one of the first big changes made Liberty. Another came when the sport announced there are plans to launch a free online streaming service for races, bringing an end to exclusive TV rights held by companies like Sky Sports. This allows all fans to watch for free, rather than having to pay to watch.

The 2018 F1 season kicks off on March 25th in Australia. It will be the first season with the ‘halo’ head protection device fitted to all cars, something that has been included in other series like Formula E’s ‘Gen2’ cars. The season will see Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton battle it out for their 5th World Championship respectively – the first time in F1 history two 4 time champions have raced on track together.

Isaac Forcella

Isaac is one of our lead writers for FullThrottle, and has a lot of passion for racing games and real-world motorsports. He’s also a competitive online racer in organized league events, and you can expect plenty of coverage from on real-world motorsport, racing games, and eSports.