Grid girls are the least of F1's problems


Announcing a full complement of members, Grand Prix Drivers' Association chairman Alex Wurz took the opportunity to reveal drivers numerous concerns for the sport and the direction it appears to be taking under its new ownership.

While the GPDA and its members expressed concern at the increasing use of asphalt run-off areas and the resultant abuse of track limits, the difficulty in overtaking, the rise of Pay-TV, the over-regulation of the sport, the lack of noise from the hybrid power units, the disparity in team budgets and even camera angles, there was no mention of grid girls.

Indeed, in the same way that the GPDA failed to point out the use of grid girls as an area of concern, we are pretty sure that had the association voiced its fears just a few weeks ago, the (old) F1 logo wouldn't have got a mention.

The use of female promotional models is a "delicate topic" which is "under strong review", Ross Brawn told BBC Radio 5 live.

"We're trying to respect all parties," he added. "There's a lot of people respect the tradition of the grid girls and there's people who feel that it has become a bit dated, so we're addressing that."

"What we need to do is get as many points of view as possible and make a decision right for the future of the sport," added Chase Carey.

These comments from Brawn, effectively the technical boss of F1, and Carey, the sport's new 'commander in chief', come days after it was confirmed that overtaking in 2017 was down around 50% on 2016. Indeed, they come days after Brawn admitted that he fears another year (or two) of Mercedes domination.

While FOM slaps itself on the back in terms of its race attendance figures, which according to the data released show an increase of 8% on 2016, the TV viewing figures are remarkable by their absence. Funny that.

Even Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle has got in on the act, claiming that "lycra can stay in the 1970s and 80s for me, I don't want any of that tarty nonsense".

Of course, one could point out to Mr Pringle that having opted out of its contract to host the British Grand Prix after 2019, his beloved Silverstone currently only has two more years to worry itself over such "tarty nonsense".

Indeed, with the British Grand Prix race attendance down by 5,500 (1.6%) this year, according to FOM, one wonders how many of those missing 5,500 stayed away due to being concerned at those lycra clad grid girls and how many stayed away due to the lack of overtaking, the continued domination by Mercedes, high ticket prices and the various other factors listed by the GPDA.

And talking of Britain - the country in which 8 of the 10 teams are based, including Germany's Mercedes, Austria's Red Bull and not forgetting Haas - from 2019 live F1 coverage won't even be available on free-to-air.

Rather than grid girls it is the dreaded grid penalties that the sport should be concerning itself with, especially as the three-engine limit - not to mention Toro Rosso's partnership with Honda - soon kicks in.

Yet again, just like the F1 logo, this appears to be a smoke and mirrors bid to take our eyes off the ball, the rearranging of deckchairs on Titanic ahead of the row that is about to explode when Liberty reveals its plans for the redistribution of prize money.

The fact is that unless the major issues are addressed - and addressed soon - there will be nobody watching and therefore nobody likely to be offended (or not) by lycra clad women and their "tarty nonsense".

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Published: 15/12/2017
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