Formula 1 has ended its tradition of ‘grid girls,’ but those affected say their job wasn’t just about “looking pretty.” They say they “brought people together,” and that their absence will see fewer people buying F1 tickets.
Speaking to RT, former grid girl Sophie Wright said her job was no different from other types of branding and advertisements seen today. “You have beautiful, glamorous air hostesses working for the best airlines in the world, you have beautiful Victoria’s Secret models…” She added that “feminism shouldn’t be a dirty word, but obviously it could boil down to that.”
Grid girl Danielle Ferin told RT that she and her colleagues “do it by choice, and we’re not forced into the work.” She said the job of grid girls goes beyond simply “looking pretty.” Instead, they have “brought a lot of people together.”
“I think it will stop a lot of people going to see it [F1 races], it will just be really male dominated,” Ferin added.
Wright said she is “really disappointed” about the decision, adding that she doesn’t feel that anyone has “asked the girls who are doing these roles how they feel about it… I feel this decision has been made on their behalf, and that’s what really saddens me.”
She called the move a “backwards step,” particularly if the aim was to empower women and assert that they can “do and be whatever we want to be.”
F1 announced its decision to ditch the grid-girls tradition on Wednesday. “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,” said Sean Bratches, F1 managing director of commercial relations.