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 He told the Beeb that having attractive young women holding grid boards or umbrellas is an “outdated” idea and that they should be done away with, because he’d like his daughters not to grow up thinking that this is all motorsport thinks women are useful for.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