Formula 1 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 Formula 1 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The decision was met by a very mixed reaction, with some hailing the removal of an outdated tradition and others stating that Liberty were fixing another thing that was not broken.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So when you end up with this meaningful segment that felt it was outdated, that it had an exploitative element to it – and I recognise that many of the grid girls were proud to do it and I think that’s great – but I think when you have as many people as I found who felt it was outdated and didn’t belong in a sport today, I think you have to be cognisant of that.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 Formula 1 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.”
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