Having been at the Bangkok International Motor Show earlier this month, I was pleased to hear Dr Prachin Eamlumnow of Grand Prix International inform the journalists that the “Pretties” will stay as an integral part of the show. For some of the journalists photographing the Pretties was probably more important than the cars!
Formula One Management (FOM) announced that it was to end the practice of using walk-on grid girls.
“Formula 1 considers the time spent by teams and drivers on the grid before a race as one of celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamor and spectacle of the Grand Prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products,” said FOM in a statement attempting to explain its decision. Following the uproar, two days later they came up with the concept of “grid kids”, a masterful “save” by Sean Bratches, commercial boss of the Liberty Media PR team.
“Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport,” said Sean Bratches. “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. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”
The decision split fans, team bosses and even drivers with Sebastian Vettel admitting that he would miss them.
Well, admirers of ladies will be delighted to hear that the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix will see the return of grid girls as organizers feel they add to the glamor. “The relationship is good with Liberty Media, because they understand that Monaco is not Spa or Monza,” ACM president Michel Boeri told the publication Monaco-Matin. “We’ve had no problems with Liberty Media, except for the grid girl issue,” he added. “They’ll be there, on the grid. They’re pretty and the cameras will be on them once again.” At last, a realist joins the fray and ignores what has been deemed to be Politically Correct.
In Russia, also not a country to just follow suit, the girls will be present. Dmitry Kozak, the country’s deputy prime minister telling Interfax: “If we can reach an agreement we will revive this tradition. Moreover, our girls are the most beautiful,” he added. Sock it to ‘em Dmitry!
Once more Liberty Media is guilty of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. So far they’ve got rid of grid girls (well almost), changed the F1 logo (from something that was well understood to something not recognized) and have been involved in the ‘no more than three engines in a season’ nonsense.
In the meantime the drivers say they cannot pass each other because of the ‘dirty air’. There is a group looking at the problem which will report back within three years! By that stage, all the spectators will have migrated to MotoGP, where passing does happen.