Formula One (F1)

‘Feminism gone too far’ – ex-F1 and Top Gear model slams decision to ban grid girls

Former Miss England finalist and bravery award winner for her fight against cancer says most women in the industry do not feel exploited

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 2018, 10:38am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 12:09pm

An ex-Formula One grid girl and former Miss England finalist says the decision to ban female models from the starting grids next season is “feminism gone too far”.

Actor and model Kate Elizabeth Hallam, 34, who was a grid girl for McLaren Mercedes driver David Coulthard at the 2004 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, told the Post that women calling for such a ban will “put a lot of young ladies out of a job that they love”.

“I feel these decisions are made by women that would never have the confidence to do such a job, which also, believe it or not, requires a great personality,” said Hallam, who appeared as a model on the BBC’s first-ever episode of Top Gearin 2004. “[These women] would possibly wear knitted cardigans and cannot really achieve a glamorous look, they are also quite possibly fed up of their husbands’ eyes averting to such women so instead decide to put a lot of young ladies out of a job that they love.”

Formula One this week decided to ban its decades-long tradition of grid girls, saying that it was no longer appropriate in the wake of the global #MeToo movement and stories of sexual abuse coming out of Hollywood.

Hallam, who said the ban was “feminism gone too far” in a Facebook post, has been modelling since 14 – the same age at which she won a bravery award from the House of Commons for donating bone marrow that helped to save the life of her brother, who had leukaemia. She was a Miss England finalist in 2002 and 2004. Over the past eight years, she has worked extensively in India.

“I was the only British grid girl that season [2004], that was back in the day when things were not all so uptight, the days where you did not feel like you were treading on egg shells and could be you and shine,” she said.

When asked if she thought grid girls were treated as sex objects, Hallam replied: “Not at all. Everybody has a job to do and there is a lot of respect. We are making it an issue now and it should not be one. It has all been blown out of proportion if you ask me.

“I feel the majority of girls in this industry would agree there is not a problem, the only problem is now with these recent decisions,” she added.

“Surely the ladies back in the 60s who fought for our mini skirts did not do so in vain? We all shout about the vote and the ladies who fought for it and I want us all to remember that.”

She said her stints as a grid girl and spot on Top Gear paved the way for more modelling assignments.