Motor racing, and particularly Formula 1, is something I’ve followed on and off for more than 45 years, from the days when it really was dangerous, and happened on public road circuits several times each year (not just Monaco), to the modern-day variant which is still challenging for the driver, but without the knowledge that two or three of those on the grid won’t be there at the end of the season. It’s changed with the times.
But one thing that had not changed over the years had been the use of young women, often wearing very little, to “adorn” the starting grid. Sponsors have also draped female bodies across their stands. But that was then, and this is now: Formula 1 is no longer the domain of the occasionally politically incorrect Bernie Ecclestone, but has recently changed hands. And the current owners want to move on.
So the “grid girls” are no more. Owners, sponsors and organisers have admitted that they are now in the 21st Century. And while free sheet Metro simply tells readers “Formula 1 scraps the grid girls”, the Express recoils in horror at the prospect, at the same time ensuring the world knows Who Done It: “Now Formula 1 grid girls are banned … PC culture is driving the world mad!” No-one banned anything, but hey ho.
But it is the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun who have taken the biscuit in no style at all, howling “Fans Slam Snowflakes … FORMULA DUMB … Now killjoys ban Grand Prix grid girls”. That their front page photo, showing a visibly embarrassed Lewis Hamilton flanked by four young women striking a forced pose and an even more forced smile, does not help their cause has not occurred to the hacks.
And the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have not yet twigged that Bernie ain’t in charge any more, blustering “EX-Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, 87, slammed the snowflake prudes ruining Britain - and insisted grid girls were a much-loved part of the sport … The 87-year-old said: ‘These girls were part of the show. Fans love the glamour’”. But it’s not his show any more. So his word matters very little.
Still, on with the ranting: “Formula One fans also blasted prudish killjoys after the Grand Prix grid girls were axed … They accused snowflake motor racing chiefs of forcing more women out of work … It comes just days after darts walk-on girls were axed”. This is total crap. There is one Formula 1 event in the UK each year, so the idea that not having “grid girls” will throw people out of work is plainly ridiculous.
The excuses for having “grid girls” are lame in the extreme - such as “Ecclestone, who previously introduced ‘grid boys’ as a trial, said they served an essential purpose in getting drivers quickly to the right car on packed grids”. Yeah, right. If you’ve just put the car on pole, you don’t need telling where to find the thing.
There are no “snowflakes” involved. No political correctness is in play. There has been no outbreak of prudery. As with darts - and snooker - sports are moving into a modern-day reality. No-one is being thrown out of work. And the only choice that matters is that made by the organisers, who, after all, are paying for the whole show.
“Grid girls” are an anachronism from the last century. Get over it, press clowns.