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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