The grid girls have got to go: why F1 should make the call
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How many people do you need on a racetrack prior to the start? If you're Formula One the answer is apparently "I dunno ... 3000 maybe?"
The racetrack asphalt used to be the domain of a specific niche of the population. As the countdown to the race progressed, daring men like Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and James Hunt would rev their four-wheeled missiles and stare down the track with steely eyed resolve.
The only thing stopping the drivers from melting under the heat of the sun was the shadow cast over the cockpit by an umbrella held by another motorsport stalwart, the Grid Girls.
They stood/sat like Bonnie & Clyde, Outlaws of Adventure. A driver and his Grid Girl were the only two allowed out on the track. This is because the '70s were a braver time, a simpler time. A better time.
Nowadays the F1 track looks like a school disco with 200 helicopter mums crowding the dance-floor and cramping the style of little Sophie and Finn.
I often wonder what the Grid Girls are thinking. There must also be a fair bit of paranoia running through her brain that says "Everyone else standing by this car has fireproof clothing on but I'm in Lyrca .. the most flammable thing ever. How about sending out another mechanic so he can hold this umbrella and I can go somewhere else and NOT turn into a human torch?!"
Drivers and Grid Girls are now joined by a team of five mechanics looking at the engine, the four guys in charge of the special blankets to keep the tires warm, a TV crew of 10, five photographers and about 40 people from the head office of a sponsor.
It's annoying to watch. Martin Blundell talks to me through the TV screen and tells me that Max Verstappen is "the one to look out for " and I reply "I'm TRYING to look out for him Martin! But there's a crowd that makes the track look like the inside of a boxing ring after a title fight. I can't see Max!"
It's time to axe some of those people from the track. The clients can go watch from a corporate box upstairs, they're mostly on Instagram anyway. Replace the photographers with drones and yes, it's time for the Grid Girls to go.
If you want 'glamour' (the 80s word for perving), the drivers WAGs are usually a collection of beautiful human beings. Lewis Hamilton's former flame Nicole Scherzinger logged more screen time than the Force India car anyway.
The Grid Girls have become a thing of the past. There's literally no room for them out there.
Please F1, just let me see the cars, the fumes and the asphalt before a race. Like the simpler, braver, better times of the past.
- Nathan Rarare, NZ Herald