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Formula 1 to Scrap Walk-On ‘Grid Girls’

Formula 1 is set to end their long-standing practice of employing walk-on “grid girls” during pre- and post-race celebrations beginning March 2018. The decision has been a of debate topic for a number of months.

“Grid girls” holding driver name boards during a Formula One race.(Photo Credit: TalkSport)

“Grid girls” holding driver name boards during a Formula One race.(Photo Credit: TalkSport)

“Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport,” Sean Bratches, F1’s managing director of commercial operations, said in a statement on their website.  

“Grid” or “walk-on” girls are typically models employed to accompany sportsmen before and after competitions. The girls are also involved in promotional aspects of the sport, often wearing branded clothing and accessories.

"While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades,” Bratches wrote, “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.

This move comes in the same week as an announcement from the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) that said they will also be halting their walk-on-girl tradition.

"We regularly review all aspects of our events and this move has been made following feedback from our host broadcasters," a PDC spokesperson said of their decision.

PDC’s decision on sparked huge controversy across the sporting and online world.

Among a chorus of others, The Women's Sport Trust welcomed the decision, tweeting: "We applaud the Professional Darts Corporation moving with the times and deciding to no longer use walk-on-girls. Motor racing, boxing and cycling... your move."

However, many people do not agree, and a petition to reinstate the tradition has been signed over 37,000 times.

A number of walk-on girls have also come out against the PDC. Charlotte Wood, well-known  within the darts community, stated in a video that the decision was “taking away women’s rights.” The 29-year-old explained she will now be deprived of 60% of her income as a result of the decision.

Celebrities have also waded in on the debate. Model and TV personality Kelly Brook worked as a grid girl for F1 during the early days of her career. Talking to The Sun newspaper, Brook defended the walk-on-girl profession: “It’s one of the best jobs I ever had. You dress glamorously, and obviously it’s about being presentable, but I never felt I was taken advantage of.”