Cape Town - Formula One chief executive Chase Carey has said "pretty girls" will still be
part of the sport despite the recent decision to stop using grid girls.
The FIA and F1 have announced a joint initiative to replace
grid girls with grid kids, who will be lining up alongside the cars and
the drivers at every grand prix weekend this upcoming season.
The decision was met by a very mixed reaction, with some hailing the
removal of an outdated tradition and others stating that Liberty were
fixing another thing that was not broken.
Carey's comments will no doubt raise eyebrows, though, as he
reassured those who bemoaned the decision that "pretty girls" will still
be part of the sport.
“I think the reaction (to the scrapping of grid girls) has been what we expected,” Carey told reporters.
“We’ve had some people who have been positive about it and others who
were concerned. Unsurprisingly, many long-term fans view it as part of
the sport they grew up with and I respect that.
“Actually if you just left it up to me, personally, I like the grid
girls. But it’s not a decision for me, it’s a decision for fans.
And I think what we found is that a number of people anecdotally raised
the issue, and as I went around what I found was there was a meaningful
segment that found it ... I don’t know whether offensive is too strong - but found it exploitative or did not find it appropriate for the world
we live in today.
“I’d say on those who were OK with it, I got a lot more ‘I’m OK with it’ rather than ‘It’s important to me’.
So when you end up with this meaningful segment that felt it was
outdated, that it had an exploitative element to it - and I recognise
that many of the grid girls were proud to do it and I think that’s great, but I think when you have as many people as I found who felt it was
outdated and didn’t belong in a sport today, I think you have to be
cognisant of that.
Carey then went on to state that F1 will not be losing any of
its glamour, but said that a decision had to be made as the numbers
against grid girls were too high to ignore.
“We’re going to maintain glamour,” he said. “We’re going to continue
to have pretty girls at races. I think it’s a part of life, and it’s a
part of what makes our sport special. It is a sport of glamour and of
mystique. But I think you have to continue to evolve.
In today’s world there are obviously different sensitivities to 10-12 years ago. I don’t think you can just be stubborn.
“There are things that made sense in the past that don’t going
forward. When I was at Fox I used to say, ‘I wish the world was frozen
with three broadcast networks. It was a much simpler world’.
But it’s not. You do have to continue to evolve and respect people’s
views. If a meaningful number of people don’t agree with something, I
think you have to respect that. But we will continue to be a sport with
glamour, with excitement - and with pretty girls.”