LONDON – Formula 1 will swap its recently scrapped grid girls program, which for years saw promotional female models accompany drivers at the stages before and after a race, with grid kids, a move that will incorporate youth competitors as mascots in a bid to boost its popularity among its young followers, according to a statement on Monday.
In a statement, the director of Formula 1’s commercial operations, Sean Bratches, said the new initiative would allow racing competitors currently in karting or junior formulae levels a chance to stand alongside their heroes on the grid as they prepare for Grand Prix races.
“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,” Bratches said. “What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”
Bratches announced a week ago an end to the use of grid girls in all competitions starting with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25, on the basis that it was outdated and no longer resonated with the F1 brand.
Grid girls traditionally undertook a variety of promotional activities during a Grand Prix event and would accompany the winning drivers on the podium during the awards ceremony.
Jean Todd, president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), the world motorsport governing body which will work in partnership with Formula 1 in the grid kids scheme, also said the initiative would give young drivers a goal to aim for.
“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport 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,” he said. “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.”