Sir Jackie Stewart believes the lack of a top female Grand Prix driver has no link whatsoever with decades of grid-girl presence in F1.
Liberty Media kicked up a storm last week when it confirmed its decision to take the girls off the grid at Grand Prix events, because their presence was no longer in line with the values the sport wishes to embody going forward.
The move sparked a fiery debate in the media between progressive thinkers and traditionalists, with no side clearly emerging a winner.
Since the inception of the world championship in 1950, only a handful of women drivers have gained access to F1, with no meaningful results.
A state of affairs which historically has no link to gender discrimination, says Stewart.
"The idea that grid girls put off women drivers is baloney," says the legendary triple world champion, seen here in the picture above with another sports legend, Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn.
"If a racing team could find a female that’s going to get to the top in Formula 1, boy would they be paying attention.
"They’d be falling over themselves. Formula 1 would love to see a woman. If we had a women, the viewing numbers would go up.
"Commercially a female driver would be hugely successful with make-up, clothing, all the cosmetics and fashion brands.
"For whatever reason, young women are not going to karting tracks.
"That’s what all the boys do. Whether it’s Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, these guys, from a young age, have been week after week at go-kart events.
"A girl so far has never done that and become a great driver. You have to keep in mind that from the hundreds of thousands of go-kart racers in the world there are only 20 Grand Prix drivers who make it into Formula 1."
Stewart has always seen grid girls as adding to the sport's glitz and glamour but always within the boundaries of respect and decency. But events of late, mainly in the US, involving sexism, harassment and gender discrimination have forced Liberty to take preemptive action, according to the Scot.
"The girls of this generation are not overly provocative. They are very well presented. They are properly dressed. It’s not as if they are all in bikinis or something," adds Stewart.
"In America, you have the Weinstein thing and many more cases of, ‘He tried to do something’ or, ‘He rubbed against me’.
"I don’t think any drivers have crossed the line but I really don’t know because I haven’t been part of that world.
"Because of the Weinstein thing, I think Formula 1 has taken preventative medicine."
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