Ecclestone laments 'prudish' end of Formula One grid girls

Marie Harrington
February 6, 2018

"The country at the moment is getting a bit prudish", he told Britain's Sun newspaper on Thursday.

Now, three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda, who currently acts as non-executive chairman of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in Formula One, has taken his shot at the sport following the announcement that the "Grid Girls" would not be back in the 2018 season or anytime after that.

F1 has experimented with changes in its presentation in previous years. "I don't remember any of the girls being forced to do anything". Fans love the glamour. Grid girls have always belonged in F1, and they should continue to belong in F1.

"And I don't think grid girls is treating ladies with respect".

This week, Formula One chose to do away with its tradition of grid girls in the wake of the global #MeToo movement and numerous high-profile cases of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and in governments around the world. Young is "no newcomer to the industry" and has spent "a number of years" working with various championships, including the British Touring Car Championship, British GT Championship and F1.

Grid girls on the grid during the FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix at the Circuit International Automobile
SUPPLIED Grid girls on the grid during the FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

He said: "I believe in a free society where people should be free to do what they want". We might as well say we don't want people to go to a fashion show because, basically, that's what happened. "They could have looked at making it more equal between the sexes in the role".

The move came just days after darts bosses said walk-on girls would be scrapped from the sport. "It's like saying, "You're a woman, you can do what you like, but only if everyone agrees it's okay" (AUTOWEEK, 2/1).

Formula One has ended the practice of using scantily clad "grid girls" before races, the sport's organisers Liberty Media said on Wednesday. There are likely lots of women who would like to have a job as a model at a Formula 1 race and the series' decision eliminates that avenue. "I can't see", the F1 billionaire said, "how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula One auto can be offensive to anybody."And perhaps there might even be a rethink, now he's made clear - at least, to anyone unversed in the sport - how critical they were to its operation".

"We're using a new concept and focusing on grid kids, and where possible we involve young and aspiring drivers that race in junior go-kart championships".

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