Currently reading: Opinion: Are grid girls an outdated concept?
This week, we discuss the concept of grid girls in Formula 1 and wonder whether they should be ditched, or joined by grid boys

Formula 1’s ‘grid girls’ are back on the agenda.

Or, rather, no longer having them hold umbrellas or grid numbers at F1 races is on the agenda, their employment being “under strong review”, Ross Brawn told the BBC, in what is viewed by F1 as a delicate matter.

The boss of Silverstone, Stuart Pringle, doesn’t think it’s such a delicate matter at all. He told the Beeb that having attractive young women holding grid boards or umbrellas is an “outdated” idea and that they should be done away with, because he’d like his daughters not to grow up thinking that this is all motorsport thinks women are useful for. It’s a view I tend to agree with.

Some F1 drivers, though, disagree, although I’m not sure asking a bloke in his early 20s whether or not he’d like to sit behind a scantily clad woman is going to get you a fair-minded answer. But it seemsthe majority of below-the-line commenters disagree too, suggesting it is “PC gone mad”, the work of killjoys, the ugly, or feminist lesbians, hell-bent on ruining other people’s fun and putting attractive young women out of work. In a survey attached to The Telegraph’s story about it, 67% of respondents said that grid girls should stay.

Is it time to abandon motor show 'stand girls'?

The arguments for doing away with them are clear enough. Motorsport coped just fine without them until the 1960s, so the ‘tradition’ argument doesn’t quite stack up. Plus, motor racing is one of the few sports where men and women are meant to compete on a level playing field; but are you really encouraging women to compete, or spectate, by making the sport’s highest-profile women those who are employed simply to look good?

The arguments for, then? Search me. If we accept that some people are better looking than others, which I don’t suppose is particularly controversial, then I guess you’re associating an exciting sport with glamorous people. Which is fine, but is playing to a one-dimensional audience. Some people like to make a living from their looks, it’s true. They don’t see it as sexist or demeaning, they see it as something to enjoy while they’re young and beautiful. Happy days. Is it not a shame, then, if you are ruled out of that gig if you have a penis?

Which, as I see it, leaves one logical way out of it: employ grid boys, as they did at the Monaco GP in 2015. You want good-looking people?

The racers who beat Lewis Hamilton

Fine, you’ve got it: half a grid of girls, half a grid of boys, all good-looking fit young things who leave you to associate F1 with attractive people, which is presumably the point.

If you’re fine with employing women because they’re attractive but not men because they’re attractive, then, well, have a word with yourself; and if those who fancy women should be entitled to “eye-jewellery”, as Nico Hülkenberg put it, then why shouldn’t those who fancy men?

Back to top

It’s a solution, to my eyes, that counters all arguments. It’s no longer sexist: you’re just employing models to do what models do best.

It isn’t “PC gone mad” because you’re still employing hot people just to look hot. And if the concept of grid boys makes people who are perfectly fine with grid girls uncomfortable, so much the better.

Read more 

Alfa Romeo returns to Formula 1 with Sauber

Motorsport wrap: Bottas beats Hamilton in Abu Dhabi F1 finale

New F1 engine regulations: Ferrari threatens to quit after 2020 season

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Thekrankis 12 January 2018

The grid girls are the only reason to watch F1

The rest of F1 is deathly dull........

Panch 12 January 2018

Get young people involved

Why not make it a competition for people aged 14 to 18, boys and girls? Every round has a online competition for young people in that country to enter and the winners get to be a grid person with a free ticket for them and their parents to attend the race, including accomodation, ticket, food, etc paid by the race sponser. Thats how you make young people intersted; getting them involved!

Andy_Cowe 12 January 2018

They shouldn’t be there

Sexism has no place in a fair world. They shouldn’t be there. On a practical level, they just seem to get in the way of the mechanics. They shouldn’t be there.