Formula 1 to replace discarded grid girls with new "grid kids" scheme

 
Joe Hall
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Kids will accompany drivers on the grid at forthcoming F1 Grands Prix (Source: Getty)

"Grid kids" will replace Formula 1's grid girls at this season's Grands Prix, following F1 bosses' decision to scrap the long-standing tradition of using female models before races.

Children who compete in junior categories of motor racing in each Grand Prix-hosting nation will be given the opportunity to stand alongside the 20 drivers on the starting grid before each race when the new F1 season gets underway in Melbourne on 25 March.

"This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters," said F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches.

Read more: F1 grid girls should stay, says women in motorsport ambassador and former Williams driver Susie Wolff

"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."

In the wake of the Professional Darts Corporation's (PDC) decision to scrap walk-on girls from its events, F1's American owners Liberty Media followed suit and denounced the sport's grid girls as "at odds with modern-day societal norms".

Yet the decision was criticised by former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, who was ousted by Liberty last year.

"The country at the moment is getting a bit prudish," he said. "You should be allowed to have grid girls because the drivers like them, the audience like them and no one cares. These girls were part of the show, part of the spectacle."

Other sports have had uses of models and dancers thrown into question but Premier League club Crystal Palace have dismissed calls to scrap their "Crystals" cheerleading team.

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