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Grid girls at the 2016 Hong Kong E-Prix. Photo: Adam Warner/Formula E/LAT

Formula E wants Hong Kong E-Prix to replace ‘grid girls’ with the ‘Grid Kids’ policy also adopted by F1

Local promoter requested to keep grid girls for 2017 race but all-electric series looking to bring Central Harbourfront race in line with rest of calendar

Formula E

Formula E has said it no longer intends to use “grid girls” at the Hong Kong E-Prix.

The long-standing tradition in motorsport of employing scantily clad women to stand on the grid holding flags, umbrellas and driver names has been ditched by Formula One for the new season, which starts on March 25.

But while all-electric racing series Formula E abandoned the use of grid girls more than a year ago, they were still present at the season-opening double header last December on Central Harbourfront.

“In Hong Kong only this season the local promoter requested to keep them [grid girls] however this will change in the future,” said a spokesman.

ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt of Germany in action during the second 2017 race. Photo: Reuters

“We are using a new concept and focusing on ‘Grid Kids’, and where possible we involve young and aspiring drivers that race in junior go kart championships.

“It’s a great and emotional experience for these kids to be on the starting grid, next to the drivers and cars that they might drive one day, so hopefully it also works as a good motivation for them. The concept is working really well.”

In a joint venture with motorsport governing body the FIA, F1 has opted to emulate Formula E’s use of “grid kids” with youngsters from motorsport clubs competing in karting to stand alongside drivers on the grid before races in the new season, which starts on March 25 in Melbourne, Australia.

FIA president Jean Todt said the “Grid Kids” initiative gives “future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes”.

“What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes,” said managing director of commercial operations Sam Bratches.

In an announcement last week, the F1 marketing chief said the decision to ditch grid girls was made “to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport”, as owners Liberty Media continue to make changes following their takeover from former commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone.

“We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” added Bratches.

“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Out with ‘grid girls’, in with ‘grid kids’