Grid Girls Are Gone But What Does This Mean for F1?

F1 has finally gotten rid of grid girls after years of attention, but was it really the right move for equality?


F1 is dropping grid girls, after Darts revealed it was banning walk-on girls as sports try to tackle gender inequality within their fields. Yet, the moves haven’t been welcomed by everyone. Stacey Solomon argued women should be free to choose their careers if they enjoy it, and Kelly Brook has also stated that women can make their own decisions.

However, many fans have been vocal in their support for the move, believing it does show that sports are taking a step in the right direction with how they treat women.

“F1’s ‘women problem’ goes much further than the presence or absence of grid girls, but it is a welcome step in the right direction,” long time F1 fan, Andy Shaw said.

“Cars = Good Objectification = Bad,” Emree tweeted.

Social media user Jose_Arrogantio agreed, saying.

“It’s long overdue and will hopefully cause other forms of motorsport to follow suit,” they replied.

Another F1 fan, Jua, also had a positive reaction to the news.

“I read this today and my first thought was welcome to 2018. Positive move. Seems with the change in ownership comes positive change for women as well. Hope other sports follow their example.”

“I read this today and my first thought was welcome to 2018”

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2 thoughts on “Grid Girls Are Gone But What Does This Mean for F1?

  1. I think the problem with woman involvement goes even deeper than Formula 1. It is a problem throughout motorsport and the solution will need to involve many forms of motorsport in my humble opinion.

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  2. Grid boys have been tried before, notably in Valencia 2008 and Monaco 2015. It was a total fail, not because there was anything wrong with the men who did the job, but because the people in the paddock demonstrated that they could not adjust to that change; that eye candy that wasn’t aimed at their particular preferences was too much for them to cope with. That’s not a nice thing to have to type about the paddock of my favourite sport’s premier series (understatement), but it is true.

    Grid poly folx weren’t tried, but I don’t think it would have been any more successful, unless they happened to pick the sort of poly folx that paddock people would have found particularly attractive to look at. Bernie Ecclestone’s outdated requests on FOM-headed faxes to give paddock passes to really glamourous ladies are not unique to him, he was simply the most blatantly foolish about the idea’s expression.

    In a different environment, grid girls would have worked perfectly fine (which is why I have no problem with their presence in BTCC, for example – with inclusive modifications, that will at the very least be needed within the next decade due to Britain’s gender stereotyping in advertising laws*). However, this requires that they work in an environment where their role is understood and both their choices and those of women who choose a different trade within motorsports are accepted for that choice. While there are probably more women working in F1 than BTCC by proportion, I get the impression BTCC respects its women better than F1 does, which is why its grid girls don’t jar the way F1’s do. (WEC’s grid girls, when it had them, were always jarring, but that was because that series’ focus was supposed to be on functionality rather than form. Most series are more balanced between the “art” and the “science” of racing).

    I’m not convinced that most people in motorsport understand why only 7.2% of 16-year-old race licence holders in Britain (kart and car) are female (note: “male” and “female” are currently the only options on the form). Or why that proportion drops significantly just 12 months later. Some do, but they’re not the ones in a position to do anything about it. That the portrayal of motorsport as often being men-only hampers the acceptance of ambition among family and friends (especially problematic as adolescence arrives). That making people spend the same amount on a season of car racing as they would on a house means the age-old tendency to permit boys to take more risks with weath and just plain spend more money on them in the first place causes major sponsorship issues. That sponsors often insisting on women doing things that sabotage their development just to keep the sponsorship (and walking out on women having the temerity to be too successful) further precludes success, especially in Europe (American sponsors are sometimes more clued-up about the necessity of allowing women to do the same things men do to succeed in motor racing).

    Research of 21 years ago highlighted 4 key reasons: over-scrutiny (by officials and especially by fellow competitors and their entourages), attitudes of sponsors/money sources to spending large amounts of money, social pressure (especially from friends at school and in the home community) and puberty coming at different times for boys and girls. The only one of these that has changed for the better in the intervening decades, oddly enough, is puberty – a combination of puberty coming earlier for people due to better nutrition and motorsport allowing transfer from karts to low-powered cars 2 years earlier in some countries (creating a 3-year transfer window between karts and traditional entry-level series) means that the biological restrictions are lower than before. The social side and over-scrutiny are about the same… …and the money situation has got much, much worse, thanks to junior series being much more expensive than even 10 years ago.

    The FIA’s response? Put in a points system that obliges drivers to spend 5 times as much money as 3 years ago to get to F1 – further disadvantaging anyone who doesn’t look like a company’s traditional surefire bet to be allowed to spend millions of pounds. If you’re wondering why F1 drivers look like a Hollywood satire of stock exchange staff, that’s why.

    * – Britain is about to start trialling rules prohibiting adverts on TV where men and women are portrayed in ways that promote harmful stereotypes – for example, it will become illegal to show an ad on TV where women in general are portrayed as bad at maths or men in general are bad about talking about their emotions. “Men do, women adorn” is likely to end up in scope for this if the trial is successful. The way society is going, I expect such rules to eventually be extended to all forms of regulated British advertising, at which point “grid people” will be the only legal way of continuing what is surely a form of advertising.

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