Grid guy and grid girl. Monaco, 2018

Why grid girls – and guys – were back in Monaco

2018 F1 season

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Before the season began Liberty Media announced it was ending the practice of using grid girls as promotional models in F1.

Soon afterwards it launched the Future Stars initiative with the FIA to bring young, aspiring racing drivers onto the grid.

At the Monaco Grand Prix the grid girls were apparently back, to the surprise of many. But this was no U-turn on FOM’s part – rather it was the result of an accommodation struck with the Automobile Club de Monaco which promotes the race, and a sponsor.

The ACM raised concerns with FOM following its announcement that grid girls would no longer appear at F1 races. The ACM pointed out it had a pre-existing arrangement with sponsor TAG Heuer to feature promotional models on the grid.

FOM’s position was that anyone present on the grid had to have a specific, legitimate function. To satisfy this, the ACM and TAG Heuer proposed the solution of using the models to present messages shared by fans.

Both grid girls and guys would be used. This was not an innovation for Monaco, which had done the same three years earlier.

So the Monaco Grand Prix featured the ACM’s grid girls and grid guys, in addition to the 14 grid kids arranged by FOM and FIA.

The nature of the TAG Heuer promotion attracted further attention on social media when it was noticed that the messages they had shared from fans could not be found on an Instagram post where TAG Heuer invited them. This prompted claims the messages had been faked.

However TAG Heuer also ran its promotion as a sponsored post which attracted far greater feedback. Many of the comments which were published were drawn from here, but were not immediately obvious to those who went looking for them.

Will Monaco’s compromise solution prove to be a one-off just for this race or is it the shape of things to come?

Promoters have given strikingly different responses to the FOM’s decision to stop using grid girls. Some have welcomed the change. But at least one other race promoter has expressed a desire to continue having grid girls.

For the latter, this approach is likely to have caught their eye.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 41 comments on “Why grid girls – and guys – were back in Monaco”

    1. I’d made this comment in an earlier round up, but will repeat it as it is directly relevant to this.

      I think Liberty have put themselves in an unenviable place here.

      I had made this comment earlier – if Liberty had done away with their grid girls on a value/ROI perspective, not many would have batted an eyelid. Instead they tied it in with the point of ‘core values’ and ‘respecting women’, and earned deserved praise for a good move, as well as criticism from others. However, with the Monaco GP, and what is likely to occur in Sochi as well, it is something that will bring focus back on this topic.

      Now, with circuits having found a loophole around this, by getting their circuit sponsor to bring in “girls/people on the grid”, it leaves Liberty in a bit of a spot. They can either say “Well hey, we don’t have any control over a decision between a circuit and it’s sponsor”, which will earn them some criticism of having passed the buck on their core values and having facilitated grid girls by proxy, or they will have to start adding this as another point into their contracts with circuits… but Liberty are already on the backfoot due to part of the contractual legacy left by Bernie.

      It will be amusing to see how this shapes up.

      1. exactly, they should have said “there will be no grid girls, because they have no specific role in the race”, but instead they decided to be all moral about it, like they have this high standard and society’s core values

        Now there is all this fuss about it because there were grid girls in Monaco, which really should’ve never be news, or at least not how it was shared, because there were grid models, apparently for the media, and social media, it is ok if guys do it.

        People are so petty nowadays they went to the trouble to search the source of the messages displayed on the boards, because that matters apparently.

        Don’t know if there is time, they already created this mess, if it was me I would try to change the perspective of the decision, it is not about women, it is not about moral standards (it is F1 there is no such thing), simply they don’t do a thing for the sport, so we will stop the practice, period.

        Looking forward for the day this disappears from my news feed

        1. People are so petty nowadays they went to the trouble to search the source of the messages displayed on the boards, because that matters apparently.

          I wouldn’t necessarily call it petty – social media is a mostly public forum and some of the messages deserved engagement (positive or negative) and others were written in a way that no human being would realistically speak.

          When people went looking for them (I only tried to find one in response to a tweet from Motorsport’s Pablo Elizalde) we either couldn’t fine the specific tweets/IG posts or just found accounts that had never posted. It all looked staged.

        2. MB (@muralibhats)
          1st June 2018, 14:57

          Not at all petty. How would you feel and react if you entered a competition whose outcome is already rigged?

      2. @phylyp What’s more amusing is people who criticized the move conveniently ignoring the guys from the conversation. Usually by making a single sentence saying there are guys but immediately switch the focus to the girls. No doubt some of them may spin it so that for the guys it’s privilege, while for the girls it’s derogatory. Yay patriarchy!

    2. Enough with this rubbish, enough! This is such a minute issue and yet it’s being treated as though it’s so pressing that we have to talk about…..what exactly?? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter it’s not a story anymore the fact that it’s being reported on as actual F1 news is crazy. I’m losing faith in this website.

      1. +1
        There is nothing to discuss here. It has nothing to do with racing. Very little to do with anything around. There are a lot more issues to be addressed/discussed. Barely makes a difference for the fan let alone the sport.

        1. How is the presence and role of women in racing a minute thing? Honestly, sometimes you people… wait. All the times you people just baffle me. It’s that Verstappen’s not at fault for his shenanigans, it’s that women in racing isn’t an issue, holy crap!

          1. That’s a confusing post Nathan, at least to me. I thought the article was about female models on the grid. It has nothing to do with women in racing does it?

            1. I believe one of the (main?) reasons we’re doing away with grid girls is because it’s not necessarily a woman-welcoming environment one that ostensibly uses women as ornamentation. Like if you’re trying to market your repair garage to women you don’t put up playboy posters? Same principle.

            2. Because don’t forget the amount of women actually driving the cars will go up the more women are watching the races in the grandstand, cheering as fans. It’s a very hard issue to solve, for sure, but it’s silly to pretend grid girls are not part of the atmosphere, and that the atmosphere isn’t male-focused.

      2. That is exactly my opinion.

      3. Can’t we go back to moaning about always talking about tyres?

        See next article…

        1. As boring as they are at least tyres matter.

    3. I’ll say it again, how is the use of grid girls in any way different to fashion brands using models, advertisements using models, millions of corporate events the world over using models?? It’s not! Oppose grid girls and you oppose the a multi billion dollar industry in principle and that is just plain stupid.

      Infuriating how much traction this tactical appeasement by liberty has gained.

      1. Infuriating how much traction this tactical appeasement by liberty has gained.

        I can’t speak to the motivation behind Liberty’s decision (i.e. whether it was cost or values). However, Liberty’s decision (and associated proclamation) as well as the Monaco sponsor-guy/girl incident have both brought this aspect of F1 into wider view, beyond just those who like racing. Like it or not, it is now part of a wider discussion.

        how is the use of grid girls in any way different to fashion brands using models, advertisements using models, millions of corporate events the world over using models

        In this case, I don’t think “others do it, so we can do it” is a reasonably argument.

        Having seen other such models used in a far more tasteless manner in other areas (scantily-dressed grid girls for other events, booth babes, for example, where their presence doesn’t add to the racing/event unlike runway models in fashion), it feels good that Liberty have taken a stance.

        Others have mentioned that Liberty have other events still using cheerleaders, and I agree with them that this is a bit hypocritical, especially given Liberty’s statement around the decision being made on values.

    4. Well I still miss the grid girls, and I am sure the girls miss the work. A good opportunity to be seen by influential people from all walks of life. Their banishment must have cost them both money and future jobs in the promotions industry.
      The displaying of messages to the drivers looked most odd and the drivers were bemused.
      Had Liberty also banished cheerleaders from their other major activities, then they might just have a moral leg to stand on, but apparently when asked about this, no printable answer is forthcoming .

    5. A lot of people like grid girls and life finds a way so this is not a surprise. I think the future will depend on seriousness of Liberty Media’s intentions in this regard. If they really want to change the perception of women in F1 and generally draw a line between F1 and bums, then the number of female engineers should gradually increase and the number of women, who are on the grid just because they look good will become smaller. If Liberty Media actually do not care, then, well, joshy_m_666 should at least change his nickname to avoid new trouble for F1 owners.

    6. I hate everyone involved in this debate. I can unironically name 99 more important problems this sport has before grid girls from the top of my head.

      The fact that we are having this debate when said issues exist is asinine, asiten, asievelen. Just let the damn promoter decide on whether they want it or not. Any young lady who is deterred from seeking a career in motorsport by grid girls isn’t mentally strong enough anyway to make it. Grid girls are an outdated relic of times past, though. There are arguments for and against and discussing this non-issue is simply a waste of paper, server space, time, thought, manpower etc, etc.

      I am angry at the media for reporting on this debate, I am angry at the drivers and other team personnel for commenting on it, I am angry at everyone in the comment sections on articles about this debate, I am angry at Liberty Media for making this a debate. The mere existence of this debate is an offence to me and anyone having any kind of opinion, regardless of sides, on this should really do the world a favour and shut up on it.

      1. @klon

        Just let the damn promoter decide on whether they want it or not.

        Liberty Media is the promoter and they have decided.

        1. You seem to have an opinion about it…

          1. Indeed. Far from a new topic around here ;)

        2. @keithcollantine Good, then this discussion is over. No more need for articles on this. Glad we were able to solve this.

      2. I think it was Joe Saward who said it, Ecclestone went out of his way to generate media-friendly gossip, incidents and scandal – even kindly donating his own financial adventures to the mix – in order to keep Formula 1 in the news. Liberty have a much calmer attitude, so we end up discussing tyres and (mostly non-existent) grid girls during the low ebb moments of the season. Personally I’d attach blame for sustaining the issue on those who can’t accept the decision already made. Or just ignore the whole thing.

        1. I should add I agree with Liberty’s decision. And having been made, it should no longer be an issue. It’s like banning smoking in public spaces, there’s going to be some grumbling from the outgoing generation, but it’s evolution. Or some semblance of it.

      3. For someone who believes it’s the 100th least important topic @klon, you sure do get angry about it.

      4. I’d suggest the next time this topic comes up, you scroll past it.

        1. For someone who thinks it’s such a waste of time sure took the time to write a few solid paragraphs about it.

    7. Grid girls, grid boys, grid kids, grid robots… don’t care as long as they are standing in front of a fast car and a talented driver. That’s what really matters to me.

      No woman or man is forced to stand in their smalls on a race track. If they want to, are given the chance to by the organisers and are paid for it, then good news for them. I personally don’t look for them, I don’t miss them when they’re not there and I don’t enjoy them when they are there.

      1. I get your sentiment. Liberty were right, though, to try to put an end to the old-school Formula 1 code that grid girls means ‘rich man’s disposable property’, a kind of Age of Trump attitude, i.e. a stone age one. Hence it’s absolutely no surprise that the (ageing) rich man’s playground called Monaco wants to keep the display going.

    8. And all of this because Sean Bratches wife moaned at him that she doesn’t like grid girls…… Woman on woman hate is amazing.

    9. In my opinion, the grid girls did serve a purpose: they held up the driver banners (name, nationality, country) at each of the grid slots.
      Granted this is not critical but I miss those large banners and don’t really care who holds them up.

    10. ‘Depriving someone of their livelihood is good’. Just ask all the grid girls put out of work to please muppets who do not contribute anything to their welfare. Nobody asked the victims (girls) if they enjoyed their job and how would they feel about getting sacked to please people not connected with them. If they were removed on safety grounds that would be one thing but they were replaced by children. I for one was glad to see them in Monaco. Good to see a few men mixed in too. Carry on F1, dig your grave deep. I’ll start taking an interest when the current idiots in charge are gone. After they destroy it.

      1. Out of work? You know that they all do more than just one race event a year. They all still have plenty of work.

    11. 1 – How much the “grid girls” production cost to F1 and tracks? Did it has any financial weight on organizing a GP?
      2 – A better policy would be write off from the budget cap any new engineering position filled by a woman – if the matter is really that important to F1.

    12. Stupid out of date tradition. These grid girls need real world jobs, and not something that runs out when their looks run out, oppression is still rife in society, as you can see from male f1 fans in above comments. What is the point of grid girls? To sexually please me, It’s as simple as that, girls don’t look at them. Women deserve better than to be objectified. If this wasn’t a sexism issue, than far ugly old girls could also be gridgirls, and fat ugly bears (gays) could be their too. It’s all a sexualised out of date image that we should not be teaching our daughters anymore

      1. Modelling is real world job. Modelling has longer career life than your average F1 driver that usually stops before they reach 30 years old. Does that make F1 driver is not a real world job? Do you think to become a model you only need the look? If so, then you’re the one who objectifying them, don’t shift the blame to others.

    13. I like sexy hot women and fast cars together, I like grid girls.

      1. Go watch “The Fast and The Furious” then.

        1. Watched it and id like to watch formula 1 with grid girls again. I also hope they are the ones who wave the chequered flag.

    14. Well, one thing they definitely added to was the crowd on the grid. Ol’ Brundle could barely move.

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