This week, we discuss the concept of grid girls in Formula 1 and wonder whether they should be ditched, or joined by grid boys
Matt Prior
12 January 2018

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 He told the Beeb that having attractive young women holding grid boards or umbrellas is an “outdated” idea and that they should be done away with, because he’d like his daughters not to grow up thinking that this is all motorsport thinks women are useful for.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.

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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?

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.

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Comments
14

12 January 2018

There are higher profile women than grid girls in F1, to be honest I hadnt really noticed them so wouldnt care if they went but I agree if they want glamour then get male models as well and actually make use of them instead of using them as brolly stands or lining the stairway to the podium. Is it archaic? Dunno, does it enhance the viewing spectacle of motorsport? Not to me.

12 January 2018

Compared to the grid a Girls you see a Moto GP for instance, the Girls on an F1 Grid are tame!, it’s getting the balance right, have Girls in National Dress?, is that bit old fashioned...? I don’t know, but if there was nothing at all other than having the Driver attend the singing of national anthems wherever, and by the way there fined if they !, no, I think the Girls should stay.

Peter Cavellini.

12 January 2018

"Compared to the grid a Girls you see a Moto GP for instance, the Girls on an F1 Grid are tame!," and compared to BSB the F1 girls are nuns! 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

12 January 2018

It doesn’t matter if they go or stay, because F1 is the most boring sport in the world, eventually self-driving cars will replace F1 drivers and no one watching the so-called sport would even notice.

The sport is no longer viable in its current format, run by large corporate companies with technical regulation that don’t allow drivers to be push beyond their standard skill limits, highlighting their true differences.

Remove all assistance devices, steering wheel buttons and replace aero with a basic level kit but allow adjustments in each team, make better tyre compounds that allow drivers to push without fear of burning them out, replace KERS with a simple battery boost to be used once in a GP.  Then bring back larger engines that allow flexible tuning and the BHP that drivers need to tame.

12 January 2018

One minute there was one per car holding the umbella which is ok, the next they're trying to put them everywhere.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

12 January 2018

grid girls have looked ridiculous for decades. The phenomenon downgrades girls by the females themselves. They should do something more respectable, and other "ornaments" should replace them.

12 January 2018

Every now and again, they should have the girls drive the cars. Lewis, Seb et al can stand around looking glam (although Kimi may struggle).

12 January 2018
Hedonist wrote:

Every now and again, they should have the girls drive the cars. Lewis, Seb et al can stand around looking glam (although Kimi may struggle).

It’ll be ok as he always in Vettel’s shadow!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

289

12 January 2018

I think F1 has a stack of issues to be addtessed first - before worrying about whether 'grid girls' are p.c. or not.

Priorities need sorting here.

12 January 2018

Clearly F1 has some big issues to address, but it doesnt mean easily solved problems such as this cant be addressed at the same time.

Arguing that F1 grid girls are tame compared to superbike ones is no argument at all and does nothing to progress society. The sport is overwhelmingly male dominated, the fact that the most prominent (only?) women on race day are models only exacerbates that image. 

Do away with them or have a fifty/fifty split of male and female models. I challenge anyone to provide a compelling argument for keeping the current situation of grid girls alone.

 

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