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First grid girls, now F1 drops classic start times

05 February 2018

Then they came for the grid girls - and Bernie Ecclestone could not stay silent. Formula One is a sort of modern-day version of the medieval tourney, a celebration of masculine bravery and strength by its latter-day knights - the son of the head of the Habsburg family is, funnily enough, a racing driver - and just as the tourneys of the later middle ages had a glamorous, sexual atmosphere, with attractive women presenting prizes to the most gallant champions, so modern motor racing has had a similar feel.

"It's actually one of the best promotional modeling gigs that you could get", Michelle Tuema, a former Grid Girl said.

However, 87-year-old British businessman Ecclestone, for decades the "ringmaster" of Formula One before selling to current owners Liberty Media, was unimpressed.

Grid girls on the grid during the FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix at the Circuit International Automobile
SUPPLIED Grid girls on the grid during the FIA Formula E Championship Marrakesh ePrix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

The F1 legend told Austria's Der Standard newspaper that the move is "completely incomprehensible". It's just a guess, but for some F1 historians, this is presumably a bit of a Rosalind Franklin moment.

Formula 1 - which is owned by the media giant Liberty Media - put out a statement on January 31 explaining the organization's reasoning behind doing away with grid girls starting in the 2018 season.

"I can't see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula One vehicle can be offensive to anybody".

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After conducting a review at the end of previous year, F1 said it made the decision as the concept "does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms". These girls were part of the show, part of the spectacle.

"The second change is to the European and Brazilian race weekends".

"We're glad to welcome F1 to the 21st century", the spokesman told Autosport magazine.

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Lucy Stokes, a model from England, meanwhile has taken to Twitter mentioning that it is absolutely unjust for others to judge the job they do.

"And I don't think grid girls is treating ladies with respect". I'm respected, paid well & proud to represent the team I'm working for.

With F1 ending the long-running practice a debate now rages on about whether or not grid girls have any place elsewhere in today's motorsport world.

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First grid girls, now F1 drops classic start times