WheelSpin: Grid Girls

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A lot of changes are coming to Formula 1 for the 2018 season. On top of a new logo and new safety regulations, there will no longer be grid girls. As some of you may or may not know, grid girls are local models (typically women) employed by Formula 1 to perform various promotional duties at each race. They get their name from the starting grid where they hold a numbered sign in front of each driver’s spot. Oddly enough, this decision has sparked a significant amount of controversy. And I mean significant.

On their website Formula 1 says: “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.” And that struck a nerve with a fan base often upset by changes to the sport and resistant to political correctness.

The most powerful response to this rule change is from the grid girls themselves who are now without an income they have been accustomed to for years. Charlotte Gash, now a former grid girl, spoke with BBC Radio 5 live about the change.

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

Now I have been a fan of Formula 1 for quite a lot of years and I have seen some serious changes made to the sport, like the switch from a V8 to a V6 power unit and more tire regulation changes than ever before, but I have never seen a change catch so much flak. Honestly I don’t really care about the change especially because of the way Formula has replaced the models.

In their place will be grid kids or kids who are competing in karting or other junior categories of racing. Effectively this alteration means you can’t argue against the change and win. There is just no way. If I say, “Hey these women are losing their jobs!” the call back will be, “But the children!” And if I say, “You are effectively using children and getting their hopes up that they will be in Formula 1 (the odds of which are incredibly low)!” the call back again will be, “We are making kids’ dreams come true.”

So Formula 1 fan base and the former grid girls, you are just going to have to deal with it. You got outplayed.

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