F1 to end long-standing practice of using 'grid girls'

FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, May 27, 2017, so called "grid girls" line up after the qualifying session for the Formula One Grand Prix at the Monaco racetrack in Monaco. Formula One says it is ending the practice of using "grid girls" and "podium girls" at races, with F1 managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches saying Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018, the use of the women on the grid is clearly "at odds with modern day societal norms." (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)

Frank Augstein

PARIS (AP) — There will be no more "grid girls" before Formula One races and no more "podium girls" celebrating with the drivers after them.

F1 said Wednesday it will end the long-standing practice of using women on the grid and on the podium with the top three drivers. The Formula One season starts on March 25 at the Australian Grand Prix.

"We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms," said Sean Bratches, F1's managing director of commercial operations. "We don't believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula One and its fans, old and new, across the world."

At previous F1 races, women dressed in uniform would walk out onto the grid shortly before the start and then stand in front of each driver's car, holding up the driver's number. Women would also stand alongside the winner on the podium after the race.

The changes also apply to other motorsports series — such as F2 — that take place on GP weekends.

F1 is owned by Liberty Media, which completed its takeover from former commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone in January 2017.

"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," Bratches said.

F1's decision was applauded by the Women's Sport Trust — a charity raising the visibility and increasing the impact of women's sport.

"Thank you @F1 for deciding to stop using grid girls. Another sport making a clear choice about what they want to stand for," the trust wrote on Twitter.

The Professional Darts Corporation has also scrapped "walk-on girls" before matches.

Other motorsports have stopped the usage of "grid girls." The World Endurance Championship — which hosts the famous 24 Hours Le Mans race — stopped doing it prior to the start of the 2015 season.

As a one-off move, race organizers at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2015 replaced "grid girls" with "grid boys" — men in short jeans — a move scoffed at by four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.

"Why didn't we have any grid girls today?" Vettel said at the time. "You get there and park behind George or Dave. What's the point?"

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