CHANGING OF THE GUARD? British model Cara Delevingne with some of the 'grid boys' on the Monte Carlo F1 track ahead of the Monaco GP. Image: AP / Gero Breloer
MONTE CARLO, Monaco - The testosterone-fuelled world of Formula 1 rang the changes, and surprised more than just the drivers, at the 2015 Monaco GP on Sunday by replacing the familiar grid girls with grid boys.
The males, in branded white polo shirts, jeans and takkies, stood in front of the cars with placards to mark the start positions.
A spokesman for the governing International Automobile Federation said the decision was taken by Michel Boeri, head of the organising Monaco Automobile Club and of the federation’s ‘senate’.
‘WHAT’S THE POINT?’
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four-times F1 champion with Red Bull, jokingly offered his opinion.
"Why didn't we have any grid girls today? What was that?" asked the puzzled German. "You get there and park behind George or Dave. What's the point?"
Commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, usually prominent on the grid with accompanying celebrities, kept a low profile this time and was not immediately available for comment.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, whose drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were lined up on the front row, said the change had taken him as much by surprise as anybody.
"I have no particular view on this but I was surprised to see them. We are used to good-looking girls, without meaning in any way to be discriminatory," he said. "If it's good-looking boys from time to time..."
The move came after the federation-sanctioned World Endurance championship, which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours, this year (2015) decided to change its procedure and dispense with the familiar models.
WEC champion Anthony Davidson said at the time that the move was long overdue. He told Reuters in April 2015: "It's old-school to have such a concept as grid girls. Surely the world's moved on? And motor racing should follow quite closely what the rest of the world's doing in that respect.
"I think that's a really nice touch, a modern touch, from the WEC to take that aspect of racing away. It is a bit sexist."
Wheels24 asks: So isn’t the concept of grid boys just as sexist? Why not keep everybody happy and have a male and female on each grid row. A single odd-numbered tail-ender could have both. Readers, let’s hear what you have to say! Email your thoughts to us!
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 series.