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Formula One The use of grid kids is a step in the right direction

YOU ever have an idea and then days later, you see it being used elsewhere?

Now I am not saying I am the only person in the world who thought of replacing grid girls with kids but it was something I was going to suggest.

I know there have been a lot of complaints from people who felt that grid girls were an integral part of Formula One, and darts for that matter, but deep down we know they weren’t.

At no point did I tune in to Silverstone to see women holding umbrellas. To be honest, and naive, I didn’t really know what grid girls did until the sport announced they would no longer be used.

That they had no impact on the race or final result. Surely that means they weren’t integral?

It is bad that there are a lot of people out of a job because of Liberty Media’s decision, that is never good.

But for people starting petitions to get these women their jobs back, where are they when schools, hospitals or police stations are closed down?

Is it OK to admit that people are more gutted about the loss of eye candy at races than the loss of jobs? And to argue that the introduction of kids is “exploiting children” is petty and this reaction to the news has had me laughing.

So many people are trying to argue that using young children has opened the door for paedophiles to tune into the sport and that using girls kept them safe.

That never crossed my mind and while I hope everyone working in Formula One has an up-to-date CRB check, it seems people are clutching at straws just so they can gawk at women in the comfort of their armchair.

One user on Twitter said: “Could it not get a bit dangerous with kids on grid. Homework clashes etc,” while another said: “Grid Kids? Whatever next? How about Grid Pets? Just go back to how it used to be before Bernie [Ecclestone] — just cars and essential personnel on the grids.”

Just because it’s a tradition it doesn’t make it acceptable in 2018. That other sports are starting to realise this means we are getting closer to gender equality in sport, though we are still a long way away from equal pay — that’s a different argument for a different day.

One of my favourite responses on social media was: “What with GridKids, Halo and generally being bored with it I think I’ll probably be giving @F1 a miss this year or at the very least not going out of my way to watch #meh.”

I’m really sorry if safer cars and young children living out their dreams are boring for you but you may want to be honest as to why you tuned in on a Sunday.

Unless grid girls were driving the cars, why would them departing stop anyone from watching the sport?

Once the chequered flag goes down, the spectacle becomes the drivers tearing around a racetrack. That is still going to happen regardless of grid girls.

It’s not political correctness gone mad. It’s not feminists once again stopping women from doing what they want. It’s not a step towards all women being forced back into the kitchen, it’s a step in the right direction.

As World Endurance Championship chief executive Gerard Neveu put it when they announced before the start of the 2015 season that it would no longer continue with the practice: “For me that is the past. The condition of women is a little bit different now.”

I think F1 managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches was right when he asked: “What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes?”

Not to mention, the sport has had a problem attracting younger fans, this is a way of doing that and potentially having them stick around for life.

Growing up, I dreamt about being a mascot at a football game, walking out alongside the people I looked up to and now a generation of young drivers have the opportunity.

Formula E began being using grid kids at the end of last season and it’s great that Formula One has finally joined the “21st century,” an FE spokesperson said at the start of the month.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Liberty Media also began to get fans involved, as FE currently has its “superfan” initiative.

In this, a supporter of the sport gets to take part in the official podium ceremony.

Doing this in F1 invites more fan interaction and offers people more ways to get involved in the sport, regardless of age.

I admit, the grid kid idea may have flaws when introduced. There are a lot of moving parts on race day and is the grid the safest place for young people?

Will they be accompanied by adults or specially trained people?

Are the fumes generated from cars safe? I would like to think all these things have already been answered and are not questions we will ask if something were to go wrong this season.

But overall, this is a spectacular idea and one I am glad I thought of before it was introduced earlier this week.

Although I am starting to think I saw this elsewhere and forgot about it. Oh well.


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