The times, they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan may as well be the background music as the motorsports world receives the news that Formula 1 is officially putting a stop to the practice of using “grid girls” at Grand Prix races.
On January 31st, F1 posted this on its website:
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 Grand Prix weekends.
Formula 1 considers the time spent by teams and drivers on the grid before a race as one of celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamour and spectacle of the Grand Prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products.
“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 is 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.”
Naturally, the announcement sent shock waves on social media. The men understandably groaned, while some fans simply posted jokes to make fun of the development.
But the grid girls themselves aren’t pleased in the least. Christina Riordan, who identifies herself as a fashion model on her Instagram account, posted:
I’m disappointed in Formula 1 for taking away grid girls. I have been a grid girl for several years, and I absolutely love being a grid girl. I love the racing world and enjoy being immersed in the thrill of it.
An Instagram post made by Georgina Bourne is particularly scathing:
To all you so-called “feminists” out there, thanks for putting me out of a job. I have never felt harassed or sexually exploited, and I don’t see how grid girls standing next to a car is offensive! The UK is becoming more and more prudish. Before we know it, women will be made to wear habits and veils, and call each other “sisters.” It’s not right. Where is the equality? Where is the empowerment?