Formula One Swaps Out 'Grid Girls' for 'Grid Kids'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Late last month, Formula One announced it would no longer be using the professionally employed models colloquially known as grid girls, starting with the 2018 season. The rationale, according to managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches, was that times had changed.

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” Bratches explained in a release. “We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

The decision was mocked as a prudish response to PC culture by some, while others praised it as a major victory against the objectification of women. Regardless, the women won’t be coming back in March. However, there will be a replacement. In a recent announcement, F1 said it will replace its grid girls with “Grid Kids.”

Don’t worry, the FIA hasn’t endorsed putting children into semi-revealing clothing. Instead, it’s allowing young fans to walk out onto the track and briefly meet drivers as they enter their cars. Families will also have paddock access for race Sunday.

According to F1, winners will either be selected via lottery or chosen by the various motorsport clubs “based on merit.” While that probably means there will be a lot of wealthy tykes (and their dads) meeting their driving heroes, it won’t be exclusive to families with deep pockets and good connections. There is a catch, though: all youngsters must be participants in a karting or junior racing league.

“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start,” Bratches said. “What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families. An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”

Exactly what the kids will be doing, beyond hanging out, is unspecified. It doesn’t matter though because, unlike the models, the children won’t be getting paid to participate. The FIA says Grid Kids will be chosen at every Formula 1 race, as well as other series like F2 and GP3 “where possible.” We’ll see how they do on March 25 at the 2018 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

[Image: FIA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Feb 06, 2018

    "There is a catch, though: all youngsters must be participants in a karting or junior racing league." Translation - their parents need to be dropping ~$25,000/year on their racing hobby to qualify. Source - Am parent. Both kids race. No I don't drop that kind of money on the little monsters annually, but plenty of parents do.

  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Feb 06, 2018

    Liberalism: Let’s find a cure.

    • See 5 previous
    • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on Feb 06, 2018

      @30-mile fetch "...He rose again to avoid the Death Tax on his estate." This made me laugh out loud. It also gives a tidy answer to the question about the estate tax, "What would Jesus do?"