Well, it’s official – April 6, 7 and 8. Now, unless you have been living under a rock, or are just not remotely interested, you'll recognise these as the dates set for this year’s Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
However, there shall be a noticeable absence with the commencement of the 2018 Formula 1 season in March. The walk-on grid girls shall be no more. The practice of employing grid girls, a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, has ceased. These ladies held such tasks as carrying drivers’ name boards and shielding them from the heat with umbrellas before races. But the bigwigs have now abolished the job with a motorsport decision to get rid of ‘glamour women’.
According to the rumor mill, Sean Bratches, F1 managing director of commercial operations, is believed to have said that F1 explored a number of areas which they felt needed updating so as to be more in keeping with their vision for the sport. They concluded that the custom of using grid girls no longer resonated with their brand values and considered it out of place with modern day societal norms – whatever you may construe those to be.
Conversely, the grid girls have apparently laid the blame for this squarely at the feet of feminists. They claim – the grid girls, not the feminists – that they have been deprived of work they greatly valued and enjoyed, all for the sake of political correctness. The sport has allegedly been criticised for taking the glamour away, some claiming grid girls are an important part of a race weekend. One disgruntled chap went so far as to claim that F1 bosses were doing everything in their power to take away the glamour and excitement from the sport. (Surely the excitement aspect is provided by the sights and sounds of the racing cars!) Yet another nameless individual chipped in to claim that the grid girls themselves should have had a say about the matter. Claims have been made that it's not very empowering for women to have such work opportunities taken away like this. It's a return to Victorian times they shriek.
Now, mindful that I am a mere motoring correspondent, I have no jurisdiction – nor indeed wish – to wade into a quagmire with either party. But the F1 is a motoring issue, right? My stance would be to take the middle ground here. The decision to have grid girls or not, of course, lies solely with the top brass at F1 – or indeed any other sporting body. In the interim, ladies who enjoy and choose to work at such events are free to do so as far as the sporting, motoring or other bodies deem it appropriate to their brand.
In the meantime, it has been revealed that grid girls will be replaced by ‘grid kids’ – primarily youths who compete in Go Karting or other junior racing categories. As a massive fan of this motoring event, I applaud the introduction of 'grid kids'. Maybe these kids might even comprise both sexes. That would be a step in the right direction, I reckon. Now then, what stylish number shall I don for the F1 this year to compensate for that hypothetical lack in the ‘glamour’ stakes? Suggestions on a postcard please!