Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has criticised the decision of the new owners of F1, Liberty Media, to bring to an end to the use of grid girls before and after the races.
The age-old practice saw grid girls stand on the track holding the drivers' names and number boards at the start of the races. More recently, they also lined the halls as the three winning drivers walked to the room behind the podium.
Liberty Media confirmed that the girls will not be present from the start of the 2018 season as it does not "resonate" with the brand and modern societal norms. The new owners are keen on providing the time before the race to promoters and performers to make the whole event more glamorous akin to the Super Bowl in America.
The grid girls are set to be replaced by "grid kids" in 2018 as part of a plan that will help inspire the next generation of racers. The sport's hierarchy confirmed that the kids will be racers from the junior categories and will be selected by each Grand Prix's national sporting authority. Twenty at each race will have the opportunity to stand next to the drivers prior to the start.
The ban decision came after the Professional Darts Association also decided to do away with walk-on girls, but the former F1 CEO feels that the two sports are not connected in any way.
Ecclestone said the move was unwarranted as the girls were not dressed inappropriately. "These girls did nothing harmful to anyone," Ecclestone said, as quoted on Sky Sports. "We might as well say we do not want people going to fashion shows. They were smartly dressed.
"We have people saying it was going in darts, but that's a different type of sport, if you call it a sport. I thought people enjoyed seeing the girls and they are necessary really."
A number of girls, who were part of the sport as grid girls, echoed Ecclestone's comments when they spoke to IBTimes UK and condemned the decision.