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Volume 7 No. 149
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Formula 1 Announces It Will No Longer Use Grid Girls

Formula 1 announced it will stop using grid girls at the start of the '18 season, saying the practice is “at odds with modern-day societal norms," according to Jamie Grierson of the London GUARDIAN. Grid girls are models used in "promotional tasks, such as holding umbrellas or driver name-boards and lining the corridor through which the drivers walk" on their way to the podium, usually wearing clothing that "bears the name of a sponsor." F1 organizers said that they will end the "long-standing practice" at the start of the '18 season at the opening grand prix in Melbourne in March (GUARDIAN, 1/31).

In London, Jack de Menezes reported the decision comes "just days after" the Professional Darts Corp. announced it will "no longer use walk-on girls to accompany players on their way to the stage," although this has since "been revealed as a ruling made by television broadcasters." F1 Managing Dir, Commercial Operations Sean Bratches said, "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. 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." On Tuesday, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn criticized the decision taken in darts and "stressed that he will not be taking the same action with ring girls." He said, "Ring card girls are very different. The ring card girls are actually doing a job which they’ve done for many, many years which is letting people know what round is coming up" (INDEPENDENT, 1/31). The BBC reported Silverstone Managing Dir Stuart Pringle said, "We wholeheartedly support the decision by F1 to drop the use of grid girls -- it is an outdated practice that no longer has a place in sport." Some have "already bemoaned the decision, saying it is a regrettable break with what they see as a fundamentally harmless tradition and an inevitable diminution" of the sport's so-called "glamour" (BBC, 1/31).

THE BACKLASH: In London, Maltby & Duell reported the announcement "was met with backlash, with fans voicing their dismay on social media." Many were "infuriated by F1's claim that the decision was made due to the 'brand values'" and took their frustrations to Twitter. One user wrote, "The Halo doesn't resonate with the fans values, remove that as well." Model Kelly Brook, 38, who used to work as an F1 flag girl, said, "It's a well-paid job. 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" (DAILY MAIL, 1/31).