Let me start my saying this. Formula One is not stopping grid girls in other forms of motorsport, it merely feels that its traditions have become outdated and solely F1 shall no longer feature grid girls.
For years now, glamorous girls have been present on the grid for the purpose of being a so-called marker for the drivers. They applaud and line the walk to the podium, and are there as, well, a decoration.
But no longer shall this be the case.
Recently it was announced in a statement that F1 would stop using grid girls due to its values no longer suiting the brand of Liberty Media.
Cue a backlash where the decision has been blown out of proportion.
It hurts to see that people are putting this down to feminism. Feminism is about equality, not about stopping women doing what they love.
People have taken the argument too far. One fan even suggested that women will be banned from wearing skirts next. That is an absurd conclusion to come to.
It can be believed that the problem lies with the way the grid girls are treated. Not necessarily by the people at the track, but the way they’re perceived in the press and online. One photographer has a fascination with taking shots of their bottoms, and complains when they’re not good enough for him.
Frankly, comments like those that feature in the tweets aren’t portraying F1 in a negative light. The remarks from the men are creepy, disturbing and damn wrong.
“No one is saying anyone has to stop modelling, F1 isn’t even saying they will stop employing models. What is happening is that the genuinely bizarre process of using women to prettify the grid has been ceased by Formula 1,” Hazel Southwell, a motorsport journalist, said.
“You only have to look at the reaction of drivers and fans to the use of grid boys in Monaco to see how grid girls were seen – as a strange titillation before the race, as though part of the prize of getting to drive a Formula 1 car was to park up behind a model’s arse, not the racing itself.
“In the context of a sport so hyper masculine (and paranoid about its own hetero-masculinity) that the idea of making some of the cars the colour pink sent tittering shockwaves through commentary, fans and drivers you have to see the decision to book girls for that as what it is; stating that the people who are powerful in F1 are people who enjoy looking at women presented this way; dressed increasingly respectably to cover for the strange, 70s sleaze of that intent. I am glad that FOM have decided to not make these bookings and I hope the girls find other work and other ways into their local F1 race.
If F1 is to diversify its ageing and decreasing viewership, it’s essential that it takes steps to make itself obviously watchable to demographics its (largely) excluded with that gaze – this is a step in that direction.”
Formula One is about much more than a pretty woman holding a flag pole or applauding a driver as he walks out to the podium. If you remove them from the picture, then F1 is still fundamentally the same. Nothing in its racing DNA changes.
Yet what about the grid girls who call their F1 weekends their job highlights. Have they lost their voice?