Motorsport 6.2.2018 06:41 pm

Bye-bye to the grid girls!

AFP / Tom Gandolfini<br />Ferrari's driver Sebastian Vettel drives during the qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 14, 2016 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix

AFP / Tom Gandolfini
Ferrari's driver Sebastian Vettel drives during the qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 14, 2016 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix

Pirelli worried about new track surface at Circuit de Catalunya.

Last week the governing body of F1, the FIA, announced the official entry list for 2018 and there were no real surprises.

Charles Leclerc and Sergei Sirotkin received their official numbers – 25 for the Russian and 16 for the Frenchman. The much anticipated name change for Sahara Force India will be announced on release of the new car at the team’s home base at Silverstone in the next few weeks.

Two teams with new titles were entered under the company’s new sponsorship deals, these being Aston Martin Red Bull and Alfa Romeo Sauber.

As the first of the season’s test sessions draws closer those at the venue, the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, are pulling out all the stops to ensure completion of the track’s total resurfacing, the third since 1991.

It is hoped that all necessary work will be completed within days so that cars can get on track with the objective of laying down rubber on the new tarmac – more rubber means more grip.

One concern was reported this week when Pirelli announced that the new track surface may be problematic.

Not good news on the eve of the test sessions, scheduled to commence on the 26th of this month. F1’s commercial chief Sean Bratches has announced that more live events, as staged in central London last year, are on the cards for 2018, although on a smaller scale.

Bratches expects to stage such events, albeit with fewer cars, in cities such as Miami, Milan, Berlin, Shanghai and Marseilles.

He is reported as saying “We believe that this contact with the audience outside of the racetrack is important. It carries our message to people we would not otherwise reach.”

He continued. “Formula One has been so exclusive over the years that it was only accessible to interested people. The same applies to sponsors.” I am afraid he has lost me at this point. I do not profess to be a marketing expert but I am not sure how F1 has been exclusive and accessible to only interested people.

With the sport having been televised on global free to air networks for many years, F1 reached an audience of millions who only required a television set to enjoy the sport. So, where is this exclusivity? As I have said free to air brought the action to millions so just who are these “interested people”?

Does Bratches use this phrase to describe the avid enthusiasts and fans of the sport or is it a group that only he knows about?

His use of “interested people” is in itself interesting. Surely all sports are subject to those who are interested in the particular sport?

Millions watch American football but I avoid it because it does not interest me. Does that imply the sport is exclusive and only accessible to those who watch it?

No sir, it comes down to a matter of personal taste. If one must talk of exclusivity and accessibility surely placing F1 behind a broadcasting pay wall is creating the very situation that Bratches criticizes.

The fact that many cannot afford the high fees imposed by the service providers is surely the very essence of an imposed exclusivity.

This is an anathema to the concept of greater accessibility. I do not intend to get into the “sensational” decision by the great thinking ones of Liberty Media to desist from employing grid girls.

The amount of comment and time that has been expended on this subject is quite incredible, as are the reactions of those in the forefront of the sport. Many individuals have voiced their opinions and they are generally poles apart.

Perhaps one should note the opinions of the group most directly involved, the grid girls themselves.

After hearing and reading all the negative aspects of such a “degrading job” for young ladies, it is interesting to note that many of the current and former grid girls have spoken out in support of the traditional grid employment.

Many were professional models, while others were purely involved for the fun and glamour that was offered, plus earning a salary that some used to further their education. The decision to remove these ladies may well be an achievement for some, but it has removed an employment opportunity.

All I can hope is there will be as much passionate discussion regarding any future significant changes to F1. Somehow I doubt it.

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