Formula One has announced what should have been an inspirational solution to replacing grid girls this season, but not everyone is happy with the plan.
Starting withe Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next month, the glamorous-but-contentious grid girls will be replaced by “grid kids” as part of an initiative to boost its popularity among its young followers.
The move will allow racing competitors currently in karting or junior formulae levels a chance to stand alongside their heroes on the grid as they prepare for Grand Prix races, according to F1 commercial operations director Sean Bratches.
“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start,” Bratches said in a statement.
“What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes,” he added.
A week ago Formula 1 announced an end to the use of grid girls in all competitions starting with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25, on the basis that it was outdated and no longer resonated with the F1 brand.
Grid girls traditionally undertook a variety of promotional activities during a Grand Prix event and would accompany the winning drivers on the podium during the awards ceremony.
Jean Todd, president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) – the world motorsport governing body which is to work in partnership with Formula 1 in the grid kids scheme – also said the initiative would give young drivers a goal to aim for.
“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and the dream of every young racer competing the junior series that make up the FIA’s single-seater pyramid, from karting all the way to F1,” he said.
“We are therefore delighted to bring that dream a little closer by giving the future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes on the grid in the build-up to the race start.
“”For the wider FIA, this is an excellent initiative that provides additional support to our member (sporting authorities) in their efforts to grow motorsport worldwide through a unique reward they can make available to youngsters participating in their national series.”
The new initiative received a mixed response from Formula 1 fans with some applauding the change supporting aspiring drivers, while others were left questioning whether the program will be fair to “normal kids”.
So F1 ban grid girls and introduce Grid Kids for aspiring drivers. Selected by each driver nationality authority… that won’t be about who has the most money then………
— Glenn Irwin (@GIrwinRacing) February 5, 2018
Why could we not just mix up the two? Will Grid Kids be paid? How will they be picked?
Because I bet the F1 Grid will be full of gorgeous kids. Not real kids.
That’ll make normal kids feel amazing 🙄
— Nancy von Short (@macchinaclub) February 5, 2018
— Ken Koala (@UncleSilases) February 5, 2018
– with AAP