Is Formula One Losing Its Soul?

Automologist ATHERTON fears that Formula One will never be the same after the departure of what once was a staple at every race. I was rea...

Automologist ATHERTON fears that Formula One will never be the same after the departure of what once was a staple at every race.

I was reading the sports column and, horror of horrors, the news of Formula One discarding the grid girls to the scrapheap came as an awful surprise. This comes after another drastic decision by Liberty Media, the brand custodian, to change the iconic logo into a forgettable one.

Is it wrong to have glamorous F1 grid girls?

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Commercial Chief, Sean Bratches, said this about the old logo at the time: “If I were to have a poll of the number of people I've met and discussed the mark since I have got here, many of them have gone years and years without understanding the invisible space between the left and the right is actually a '1'." But isn’t that the beauty of it?

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My question is: ‘How many really understand the expertise and technological know-how of the teams, the hours of wind tunnel testing, the logistical nightmare teams face moving from one location to another, the marketing work done by drivers and people behind the scenes? (the list goes on)’. Not many. I believe fans want to watch a race for its thrills and spills. We as fans may or may not know the whole scenario but, like the logo, that is the beauty of Formula One.

With the grid girls gone from the main race and even all support races because, as stated by Mr. Bratches: "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. We don't believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world." What???

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In a BBC poll in December, 60% of respondents said grid girls should be part of Formula 1.

Formula One is seen as the pinnacle of motorsport, but over the years there have been many changes, including rules and regulations that seem to dilute the thrill it brings. Some argue that other sports have done away with grid girls, citing WEC (World Endurance Championship) and PDC (Professional Darts Championship), and that Formula One should follow suit.

Here are some comments I've read that give diverse views on the decision: -

"The World Endurance Championship did away with grid girls some time ago and are in no way the poorer for it, let's hope F1 do this too. And as a caveat, as a gay woman who loves motorsport, I love a beautiful woman, but not put on show."

"Why don't we ask the grid girls what they want? What if it pays well and they enjoy it?"

"F1 should do away with grid girls. It has a certain cringe factor in the 21st century. I'd prefer local schools or charities represented on the grid instead. Bonding F1 with local communities."

"Nothing wrong with grid girls, or boys. It's just they don't need to be so scantily clad. They can wear traditional dress for wherever the GP is being held."

Branding or ….

Image credit - The Daily Star

Bear in mind that for these grid girls, it is a source of income and a chance for them to go beyond being a grid girl and possibly into the world of fashion, running their own management company, etc.

Here's what some of the grid girls themselves had to say:-

“It’s upsetting and I’m rather disgusted that F1 has given in to the minority to be politically correct. I’m one of the lucky ones that I don’t rely on this as a main source of income, but there are girls out there who do,” said part-time grid girl Charlotte Gash to BBC Radio 5.

Caroline Hall, a former grid girl, said, “I think it’s sad they’ve taken such extreme measures so quickly. I think they could have looked at ways of bringing the role more into line with modern times instead of scrapping it entirely. They could have looked at making it more equal between the sexes in the role. The question is: What are people offended by? Are they offended by the role, that there is somebody standing there with sponsors over their clothing or is it the fact that it’s only women doing it?”

“I know the grid girls are there to look pretty when they’re out on the grid, but my role was interacting with the crowd and we were there as an advertisement for the sponsors. We love doing it, we don’t want it taken away from us,” she added.

Too much? Or too little?

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Former F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone slammed the decision. “These girls did nothing harmful to anybody. They were smartly dressed. We might as well say we don’t want people to go to a fashion show because, basically, that’s what happened.”

What's your take on the situation? 


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