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Walk-on ‘grid women’ scrapped from Formula One races

Women who walk on to the grid at the start of Formula One races will no longer be used, the sport’s organisers have said.

The change will apply from the start of the new Grand Prix season, with the first race taking place in Melbourne, Australia on 25 March.

The women, commonly called grid girls, are often seen carrying the drivers’ standards which indicate their race numbers and their location on the starting line.

They also often line the route that the top three drivers take as they head to the podium at the end of a race.

Lewis Hamilton sprays champagne at a grid girl as he celebrates his victory after the Chinese F1 Grand Prix in April 2015
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Lewis Hamilton sprayed champagne at a ‘grid girl’ after his victory in the China Grand Prix in 2015

Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at F1, 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.

“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

Grid girls line up during the Formula One Grand Prix in Russia
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‘Grid girls’ line up during the Formula One Grand Prix in Russia

Liberty Media, the sport’s organiser, said the changes would apply to other motorsports it organises during grand prix weekends.

The sport said it still considers the time drivers and team members spend on the grid before a race should be one of “celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamour” but added that the aim now was that “promoters and partners” should “showcase their countries and products”.

The organisers of some of darts’ biggest tournaments, the Professional Darts Corporation, also recently decided to stop using walk-on girls.

Tens of thousands of people, including former PDC world champion Raymond van Barneveld, signed a petition calling on the group to change its mind.

Other sports still regularly employ women to preform various functions before and during events.

Boxing and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) both feature “ring girls”, who tell the crowd which round is coming up by holding up numbered cards, generally while wearing revealing outfits.

Cheerleaders are also used widely in American sports, with teams and franchises having their own professional squads.

Cycling is another sport which traditionally uses “podium girls” to appear with race winners.

Reaction on Twitter was, unsurprisingly, split.

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