Formula 1 has announced a new partnership with the FIA that will see young racing drivers get to stand on the grid in place of grid girls before a race.
It was confirmed last week that grid girls would no longer be used in Formula 1, and the sport has now announced a new initiative called Grid Kids that will be introduced with the target of making “the pre-race ceremony more relevant and interesting for fans, especially the younger ones.”
Grand prix promoters will work with their local ASN – the national sporting authorities as recognized by the FIA – to select youngsters who are already competing in karting or junior racing categories, based on merit or a lottery. The young racers will then be invited to stand alongside the 20 F1 drivers on the grid pre-race, as well as their families having paddock access on race day.
Sean Bratches, F1 managing director of commercial operations, says the initiative is designed to act as inspiration for young drivers to continue chasing a career in racing.
“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start,” Bratches said. “What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families. An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”
As the initiative has been realized in partnership with the FIA, president Jean Todt says it will also help local governing bodies to use the experience to increase interest in motorsport in their respective countries.
“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and the dream of every young racer competing the junior series that make up the FIA’s single-seater pyramid, from karting all the way to F1,” Todt said. “We are therefore delighted to bring that dream a little closer by giving the future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes on the grid in the build-up to the race start.
“For the wider FIA, this is an excellent initiative that provides additional support to our member ASNs in their efforts to grow motorsport worldwide through a unique reward they can make available to youngsters participating in their national series.”
Where possible, the Grid Kids initiative will also extend to Formula 2 and GP3 during a grand prix weekend.