Monaco set to defy grid girl ban

The president of the Automobile Club of Monaco (ACM), which organises the Monaco Grand Prix, has placed his organisation at odds with F1 owners Liberty Media over the issue of grid girls.

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Ahead of the current season, and in the wake of the #MeToo campaign in the United States, launched in response to the Harvey Weinstein controversy, US-based Liberty replaced grid girls with grid kids.

The children, participants in karting or junior categories, are to be chosen by their local motor clubs on merit or by lottery.

It is thought that both Monaco and possibly the organisers of the Russian Grand Prix will be allowed to have girls on the grid, although they will not hold the drivers’ numbers or take part in other parts of their traditional roles.

Original grid girl

Both Monaco and Russia claim they are merely continuing the long association between the sport and glamourous girls alongside the drivers at the start and end of the race.

There is some merit to this argument. The original grid girl was Japanese model and singer Rosa Ogawa who is now 71 and first appeared at the Japanese Grand Prix in the 1960s. She appeared advertising brands that were keen to cash in on the burgeoning popularity of the sport and keen to exploit the growing media interest, in the early days of modern advertising.

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Soon the US picked up on the idea and the grid girls began to appear worldwide, as the sport grew and new locations were added to the competition.

Social norms

Michel Boeri, president of the ACM, said Liberty was waiving the new rule as it understood Monaco was not Spa or Monza, and enjoyed a reputation as the glamour grand prix of the championship. Fans can experience the difference by accessing the Monaco F1 Paddock Club, by visiting

Nonetheless, the move seems to be at odds with Liberty’s announcement that walk-on models would not be used in 2018 as their presence was at odds with modern social norms. Although the decision was widely welcomed, it did draw criticism from F1 traditionalists, including insiders such as former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and former champion Niki Lauda.

In contrast, FIA president, Jean Todt, praised the introduction of grid kids, claiming it would give future racers a chance to get close to their heroes.

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