GRID girls have united to criticise racing giant Formula One’s plan to replace them with children.
Motor racing’s top tier has scrapped the all-female promoters ahead of its 2018 season, which starts in Melbourne next month.
As F1 bosses introduce a new ‘grid kids’ scheme in their place, women on the track are set to make way for young representatives already competing in the junior categories of motor sport.
British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) grid girl Tegan Ramsay, from Emsworth, has slammed the change – claiming it could make the industry less accessible for women.
The 19-year-old – who studies event management at university in Oxford – said: ‘This is the wrong move. Being a grid girl is about so much more than just standing there – we do a lot of work behind the scenes.
‘For many women it’s a great way of networking, being part of a team and building contacts to work toward a career in the business of the sport.
‘I’ve loved racing ever since I was a girl and, for me, grid-girling was a way into the events side of it.
‘By getting rid of it, those opportunities could be taken away for lots of people – many who have degrees and study hard around the job.’
As part of their role, grid girls act as a line of communication between teams and their sponsors on race-days – sporting branded clothing.
Bryony Snowdon from Warblington is going into her third season as a BTCC grid girl, for Cheshire-based team Speedworks.
Speaking about the cuts, the 26-year-old said: ‘I think it’s a big shame – girls have been employed since the 70s for promotional work.
‘When you have a brand sponsoring a car and team, it is so important to ensure they are kept involved, giving information on what’s happening throughout the day and making sure they know where to go during grid walks.’
Touching on the inclusion of ‘grid kids’ into F1, Ms Snowdon added: ‘They will have to employ another person to do all the other jobs the grid girls did behind the scenes.’
F1’s American commercial chief, Sean Bratches, said the new changes would ‘inspire the next generation’ of racers.
He said: ‘This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters.
‘Imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, and to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start.
‘What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula One heroes.’
The grid kids scheme will be introduced at the Australian F1 Grand Prix, from Friday, March 24.