The decision from new owners Liberty Media to do away with grid girls next year has split opinion. Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has labelled the move as ‘prudish’ whilst three-time world champion Niki Lauda told Austrian paper ‘Der Standard’ that it goes even further than that and that it is a decision against women’s rights. “This is a decision against women,” said Lauda. “Men have made the decision over the heads of women. This is not doing any favours to F1 and especially not for women. How stupid can they be? Are they nuts?”
Lauda is not alone in his views although many, including Williams team boss Claire Williams, are supportive of the move.
Replacing grid girls for next season is a new initiative to encourage more talented youngsters to take an active role in the sport. ‘Grid Kids’, children competing in karting and junior categories, will accompany the drivers on the grid instead.
Formula 1 has always been synonymous with glitz and glamour and grid girls have been a part of the sport for as long as cheerleaders in American football. This is why Lauda and many more like him see the decision as setting a dangerous precedent.
“Grid girls have always belonged in F1 and they should continue to belong in F1. If you continue down this path, there will be no cheerleaders left in America.”