Lewis Hamilton's tactical blunder of a pit stop wasn't the only debatable topic during last Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix. There was one other thing that caught the attention of viewers, teams and at least one driver, too: the absence of grid girls in favor of grid boys.
Sebastian Vettel jokingly brought up the 'issue' during a press conference. "Why didn't we have any grid girls today?" he asked. "What was that? You get there and park behind George or Dave. I mean, what's the point?"
According to a CNN online feature by Sarah Holt, grid girls "arrived in Formula 1 following the advent of sponsorship and advertising in the late '60s, and soon became a popular promotional asset for the sport." The story adds that grid-girl duties "include displaying the race number placards on the grid, clapping the drivers onto the podium, making appearances in VIP suites and taking part in photo sessions with the fans."
That makes it over half a century that there have been grid girls, race queens, pit babes, brolly dollies, and whatever else have you. And in all that time, they've polarized opinions.
Those against the tradition argue that it's outdated--nothing more than a form of objectifying women and selling sex. In fact, the World Endurance Championship nixed it just last month:
Those in the opposing camp, on the other hand, contend that grid girls complement the racing spectacle. In the aforementioned CNN feature, which discusses the selection of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) girls for the US Grand Prix, manager Kristen Ditto stressed that it's not all about looks: "It's a lot more than that. We are looking for the all-American woman who is poised, attractive and confident, a great communicator, and who can be a COTA ambassador."
Added COTA girl Grace Kim: "We're always representing girl power!"
So, what is backward and sexist for some is harmless and empowering for others. How do 'George and Dave' fit in, then? Does having grid boys represent gender equality? Do they enhance the show in the same way their female counterparts do? Or should we simply get rid of models--grid girls and grid boys alike--and just focus on the cars and racing?
Have your say in the comment box below.
Photo from Tag Heuer's Facebook page