Last week, F1 announced the contentious decision to remove grid girls from the sport. It was a bold move, resulting in mixed reactions from fans, team members and the women themselves.
This week, the F1 Group and FIA announced what would replace the ladies: Grid Kids.
For each race, the organizers will select local children for the task. These will be children already involved in motorsports, competing in junior categories, such as karting. Local motorsport clubs will choose the youngsters based on merit, or by lottery. The lucky few will then accompany the drivers on the grid as they prepare for the race.
Working with FIA-approved sporting authorities, the kids and their families will be a part of the pre-race ceremony. The “Grid Kids” will stand alongside their immediate family on the grid, with paddock access for the race on Sunday. The FIA will chose Grid Kids for every F1 race and, where possible, every Formula 2 and GP3 event too.
Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of operations, shared his thoughts on the program:
“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. What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families. An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”
In the face of the mixed reactions to axing grid girls, this is a positive change for the sport. As Bratches touches on, it allows young drivers a chance to experience the sport for themselves.
This isn’t the first time grid kids have featured in motorsports though. Formula E already makes use of the program, with the latest example seen in last weekend’s round in Chile.