Ecclestone blasts F1's 'prudish' decision to axe grid girls

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Former Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has blasted the sport's decision to drop the use of grid girls in 2018.

“These girls were part of the show. Fans love the glamour," the 87-year-old told The Sun newspaper. "These girls were part of the show, part of the spectacle.

"You should be allowed to have grid girls," he insisted. "The drivers like them, the audience like them and no one cares.

“I can’t see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula 1 car can be offensive to anybody.

Ecclestone added that it was a case of everyone "getting a bit prudish" at the moment.

The newspaper's front page proclaimed the decision "Formula Dumb". A subheadline added that "Now killjoys ban Grand Prix grid girls."

One part-time grid girl told BBC Radio 5 live that she was "disgusted" by Formula 1's decision.

"It's upsetting," said Charlotte Gash. "Formula 1 has given in to the minority to be politically correct.

"I'm one of the lucky ones that I don't rely on this as a main source of income, but there are girls out there who do.

"I know the grid girls are there to look pretty when they're out on the grid," she added. "But my role was interacting with the crowd. We were there as an advertisement for the sponsors. We love doing it we don't want it taken away from us."

However, the managing director of Silverstone has backed Formula 1's decision to end the 'outdated' practice of grid girls at Grand Prix events.

"We wholeheartedly support the decision by F1 to drop the use of grid girls," said Stewart Pringle. "It is an outdated practice that no longer has a place in sport."

The Professional Darts Corporation last week pre-empted Formula 1's decision by announcing that walk-on girls will no longer be used at events. And the Women's Sport Trust has welcomed the latest moves.

"We strongly encourage sports such as cycling, boxing and UFC to follow darts and Formula 1," the Trust said in a statement.

It called upon other sports to "reconsider the use of podium girls, ring girls and octagon girls.

"This is not a matter of feminists versus models, which seems to be the way many people want to portray this story.

"These changes are taking place because global businesses are making a considered choice about how women should be valued and portrayed in their sports in 2018. They deserve significant credit for doing so."

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