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Grid girls may be gone, but welcome the F1 Grid Kids!
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Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Feb 2018   |  3:25 pm GMT  |  427 comments

A week after axe-ing the so called Grid Girls, Formula 1 has announced that it will now encourage youth onto the F1 grid, in a joint initiative with the FIA.

The idea is to inspire the next generation of motorsport competitors and for them to really get a taste of what F1 is about at their local Grand Prix.

At each Grand Prix, kids who compete in karts and junior categories will be chosen by their motorsport clubs on merit, or by lottery. The winners will then be able to accompany and stand alongside the 20 drivers on the grid as they get ready for the race.

It’s rather like the mascot system in football, although it sounds like the kids will be a bit older.

The idea has many origins, but the worldwide reaction to the Kimi Raikkonen fan who cried when he crashed out of the Spanish Grand Prix and who was then invited to meet his hero and visit the F1 paddock, clearly showed that there was a warm response to the sport reaching out to kids.

That said, the banning of Grid Girls has also generated a huge response – over 650 comments on a post about it on this site alone.

As the FIA is fundamentally involved in this – their local clubs are also engaged in finding the kids – there will no doubt be an FIA Road Safety dynamic to the kids experience at the track, although that is not spelled out in the announcement document.

Their families will be welcomed into the F1 paddock for race day at the Grand Prix, as part of the experience.

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and the dream of every young racer competing the junior series that make up the FIA’s single-seater pyramid, from karting all the way to F1,” said FIA president Jean Todt.

“We are therefore delighted to bring that dream a little closer by giving the future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes on the grid in the build-up to the race start. For the wider FIA, this is an excellent initiative that provides additional support to our member ASNs in their efforts to grow motorsport worldwide through a unique reward they can make available to youngsters participating in their national series,” he added.

“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start. What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families.

“An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes,” said Sean Bratches, F1 Managing Director of Commercial Operations.

All photos: LAT Images

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1

globalist agenda is in full swing now.
we can’t have women on the grid cause that promotes actual healthy opposite sex marriages, might as well appeal to the pedophiles in that case.

2

So they take away a nice earner and a bit of pazaz from attractive women and put kids in. I have kids but don’t really care for this craze of tossing coins for Federer or running out with the football team. Trust me. Children get more than their fair share of sporting attention in life and at least real professional sport we could just watch and enjoy and not have to devote that to them also. This is TOKEN feel good garbage.

3
Clarks4WheelDrift

Utterly pathetic marketing campaign by “the artist formerly known as F1”.

FIA, Liberty, focusing on all the wrong areas, as usual.

Patronising marketing this PR nonsense as if the fans, the public are all stupid or thick.

Worse than how they over-used the poor crying Kimi kid – fair enough get his family to the Ferrari garage and show a shot but no need for the quick, market this to death, get it viral, F1 did all this for a kid and his poor family that didn’t even have a paddock pass. Look F1 is so wonderful you should subscribe a lot more money to PPV F1 or you may miss the next patronisingly over the top gimmick.

Next on the F1 agenda of importance:
“2020 replace the kids with week old fluffy puppy dogs leading out the drivers”

4

Haven’t read the other posts. Just wanted to say that the grid kids is an absolute masterstroke!
F1 needs a bit of fun, family involvement and more young fans. There’s a good reason why other sports have been using child mascots for many years.
It’s a good thing to move on – although grid girls may be entertaining for middle aged males (of which I am one) it’s time to leave it behind, much like smoking, drink driving and the gender pay gap……

5

So it would appear what working class females have lost their jobs to privileged kids…

6

I work for an Australian company that was taken over by an American company. The American’s made changes without understanding the company, or indeed, the Australian culture. Long story short, they broke it, 75% of staff have left the company, and we’re close to winding up.

F1 is inherently a European sport. I know saying that will annoy and offend some people, but i really think it’s the case. I haven’t followed the sport in great detail for the last couple of years to be honest (broadcasting changes killed F1 in Australia), but from what I can see there has been a gradual but clear move away from the essence of the sport. Obviously that has been happening since long before the new owners took control, but it seems to have hastened in the past year. I really cannot see the end game here though – small gains in the American audience will not offset loss of viewership in other key markets.

TL;DR – what are they playing at?

7

When are liberty going to do something that the fans actually want?

8

I think Liberty and the FIA should ban the champagne on the podium next! You can’t have these elite sportsmen getting drunk on television. What message is this sending out to people at a time when Governments are trying to educate people about the dangers of alcohol abuse?

9

This is cringe worthy. In the States, it’s always “kids first” to make everything better. I’m sure the blonde, blue eyed boys will get first pick…

10

I think we need a bit of a reality check here. I was not a fan of banning grid girls, sure they were a bit old fashioned but I think banning grown women from a paid job on grounds of “they are good looking so therefore must be thick and unable of making an informed decision on their career and are thus being exploited” is the definition of irony when it comes to equal rights. Equality would be no one caring about who or what stands on the grid, banning someone is discrimination be it positive or negative.

Also I think the people screaming child labour need to get a grip. If you were a kid doing a bit of karting I think you would be thrilled to stand on a grand prix grid and get the chance to meet your heroes. Plenty of other sports use kids as mascots.

What they should ban are all the z-list celebrities and gazillions of photographers so you can actually see what’s going on on the grid, have a draw on ticket number (of all ticket types, not just the ones that cost thousands) to get a grid pass.

11

But what are they going to do? Same thing as grid girls were doing?
Similar idea to boy balls in tennis? Or towell boys?
Nothing wrong with having young people or kids more involved and inspired. But they issue is THE REASON why grid girls were axed, not the fact itself. This is a sign of our dallen times

12

Why not have both no one forces people to do that job so they would not be there if they had a problem with it.

13

so, what’s the difference? how does the saying go, “women & children first”. so, if replacing the grid-girl is a true decision of political correctness, then why is exploiting children on behalf of sponsors and for tv ratings any different??

14

Cut the cost of paying women and make it seem progressive instead of upgrading their duties or giving them more important roles. Then pocket the money from the Stroll’s in karting who are “randomly selected” to increase revenue and building new fans for the future. Monisha is gone and is Claire even coming back? Susie didn’t even get a drive when the team needed a replacement driver. The amount of women in F1 seems to be on a declining slope not inclining one. Yet this cost cutting of grid girls is seen as a positive.

15

Susie didn’t get a drive when Claire, Susies friend, coworker and sister-in-arms, was a deputy descision maker *and* Williams had nothing to lose *and* Toto owned shares *and* Toto had huge political power with his ties to both Williams and Mercedes, which as we of course know are Williams engine supplier. If all of those stars aligning can’t get a woman in the car, what can?

16

Being fast and consistent. This is racing.

17

Susie was fast and consistent at the time, otherwise she wouldn’t have been the lead development driver.

18

Quite frankly its not my thing, I don’t mind losing grid girls but I don’t want to see kids on the grid, why are they stealing what is a stupid idea from football?
I watch a race to get speed, passion and danger and to get away from kids for a couple of hours. 🙁

19

i bet the grid girls, who actually got paid to be somewhere fun and glamorous for the day, are delighted to have been replaced by children.

20

I can’t wait to hear about some of the kids emotive life stories, the battles with adversity that they have had, the way they’ve had enough “heart” to keep believing.

21

Kids, dogs, nuns and chimpanzees the standard wholesome -recipe for the perfect press photos. Forget sex appeal, who needs that to sell Motorsports tickets……..?

22

Well what a great image this will set, all the ‘grid kids’ standing on the grid & by the drivers during the national anthem at the HEINEKEN sponsored *insert name* Grand Prix!!!

On a more serious note James how will this be managed at GP’s as coming from someone who works in motorsport, at nearly every circuit under 16’s aren’t allowed in the pit lane due to health & safety regulations!

23

Things just keep getting worse.

24

If anyone was wondering how that converts into Bratches-speak, allow me:

“We’re motivated by incorporating these nascent adults into our core media properties so that we’re able to synergise the brand fundamentals with an increasingly heads-down demographic in order cultivate additional revenue streams for our partners. I’m hip to the jive bro, just check out my massive side-burns.”

25

hahha…I think i prefer Ron dennis.

26

Imagine the two of them holding a joint press conference…

27

Maybe Vettel can give all the up and coming racers some pointers about road safety and how not to use your car as a weapon if you’re ticked off with another driver!! (Don’t do as I do, Do as I say).
If the FIA were serious about how F1 looks to the younger generation they would have done the decent thing and banned Vettel for at least 1 race after the stewards decided to be extremely lenient by “not wishing to interfere in the championship battle”

28

Grid Kids? How is this any kind of inmrovment to the grid girls. Yet another distraction from the spectacle. It’s just going to be a bunch of yuppie kids put on TV by daddy, so they can get a taste of tv before they become presenters.

29

How very fitting for Formula1 – yet more spin.

If the series really was serious about “supporting youth” or for that matter, anyone getting into motorsport, it would be actively investing in tracks and the lower formulae.

As it is, the business of Formula1 has done the exact opposite.

“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start. What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families.”

One thing that would have a greater affect is lower ticket prices so that more people get the chance to get a little closer.

The grid girls must be a bit peeved as well, certainly the ones who wanted to be “standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start. What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families.

“An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. “

30

Totally agree … if they are dead serious about PC, gender equality and inclusion for all, why have they banished one entire gender for looking good, representing sponsors and adding flair ‘n’ glamour to the show?
This stinks to high heaven of double standards and yes … DISCRIMINATION!!!

Not to worry, the FIA will put a kybosh on “kids on the grid” as soon as it costs them millions in a court case.
Seriously, we are only one high profile law suit away from kids being banned from the grid.
The FIA are all about everything “safety” and saving money on their insurance premiums so if (sorry, when!) a kid gets hit by a car in the pitlane, burned on the grid by touching an exhaust pipe, lost after wandering away or verbally abused on the grid for getting in the way, touching a car or breaking a piece off a $250,000 front wing to take home as a souvenir, the FIA’s insurance premiums will rise and they will put a stop to it!
Maybe they’ll end up making the kids wear a HALO device on their shoulders, HANS neck support, fire-proof undies and a full face helmet

31

Alosno karting camp is an admirable undertaking investing in the future maybe F1 should make a camp in all the countries it races as part of the hosting the race deal

32

Exactly where are the go kart tracks that a kid can go to and run laps till they run out of fuel and master their craft in the way kids can go to a park and practice shooting baskets, juggling balls on the pitch, playing catch etc… create the infrastructure to facilitate more Verstappens from around the globe to get in. Part of his skill is the amount of time he spent in karts and the luxury of seat time and streamlined learning curve afforded to him by his father who studied under no other than Michael Schumacher who only has 7 championships.

33

James, your ex-ITV colleague Louise Goodman sums it up for me. I think she is easily one of the best racing journalists out there, and for me, she gets it. F1 needs to have an adult edge – these are supposed to be the grown-up cars that only ‘Men’ can handle, and Grid girls add to that.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2004/aug/08/formulaone.comment

The mistake F1 made is not getting the Grid Girls involved in the race weekend. I remember an interview with one woman, she says she is studying medicine, this was like one-off event work and she was enthralled by the racing world enough to come back and do it for many years. Now why didn’t the F1 community get her more involved in the racing? They could have had Grid Girls interviewing drivers, taking part in practice pit stops, driving the drivers on the track parade, and much more. But LM decide that instead of actually addressing the problem – lack of women involvement in the racing – they choose to banish the ones that are because they’re not in line with their new family friendly marketing strategy. Oops.

And just watch Daniel Riccardio go toe to toe with Sky’s Natalie Pinkham on camera after Danny has just driven the pants off his RBR. That’s what F1 needs more of.

34

We’ve all heard the anecdotes of the honours students paying for doctorates by stripping at the weekend. This is nothing new. I think you’re missing the point. The point is that women shouldn’t be allowed to make choices like that, not unless they take an empowering descision and *choose* to do that because they *want* to do that instead of taking other career paths.

I think what it boils down to is that one woman’s empowering descision is another woman’s subjugation. They can’t all agree so nobody is allowed to do anything. PR departments are in knots and everybody is afraid to breathe.

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