Grid girls will not feature in Formula 1 from 2018 season

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Formula One has ended the practice of using scantily clad “grid girls” before races, the sport’s organisers Liberty Media said on Wednesday.

They said the practice of having the women milling about in the grid area before races was “clearly at odds with modern day societal norms”.

Darts took a similar decision this month, banning the women who walk on with the players before matches.

“Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1.

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.”

Bratches said the practice was not “appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world”.

The decision by F1 bosses to axe the grid girls, one of the sport’s long-standing pre-race traditions, is expected to bring similar pressure onto organisers of boxing and motorcycling who routinely use attractive women in event promotions.

The treatment and media image of women in sport has been drawn into sharp focus after the momentum sparked by the #MeToo campaign which has highlighted allegations of sexual misconduct in the world of entertainment and politics.

However, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said Wednesday he will not remove ring card girls from his fights.

“The ring card girls have been a part of boxing history for many, many years. As far as I am aware, darts will still have dancers on stage performing, but the walk-on girls were not really necessary,” Hearn told GQ magazine.

“From a boxing point of view, we want to keep the traditions of the sport going and in my opinion it has nothing to do with sexism or feminism. It is just a part of boxing and until we are told otherwise.”

Women’s groups, however, backed the F1 decision.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Mercedes to unveil new car at Silverstone in February

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Lewis Hamilton will take the wraps off the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a fifth Formula One championship next month.

Mercedes, who last year sealed a fourth consecutive constructors’ title, are set to launch their car for the forthcoming campaign at Silverstone on February 22.

Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas will also get their first taste of this year’s Mercedes with the team due to complete 60 miles of running at the Silverstone track.

Mercedes rivals’ Ferrari are also due to unveil their car on the same day, while British team McLaren –

who will be hoping for a reverse in their miserable fortunes following the switch from Honda to Renault power for 2018 – have announced they will break cover with their new challenger on February 23.

The opening winter test gets under way in Barcelona three days later with Melbourne playing host to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 25.

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Sergey Sirotkin to partner Lance Stroll at Williams for 2018

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Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin (Picture Courtesy: Williams Racing)

Robert Kubica has missed out on a sensational Formula One comeback after Williams announced Sergey Sirotkin will drive for them this season.

Kubica, the 33-year-old Polish driver who has not competed in F1 for more than seven years following a life-threatening rally crash in 2010, tested for the British team in the hope of racing again.

But the team, based in Oxfordshire and a winner of 16 combined championships, have instead opted for Sirotkin, the 22-year-old Russian, who has competed in a number of practice sessions, but is yet to make his full grand prix debut.

It is understood, however, that Kubica is still in contention for a reserve seat with the British outfit this year.

Sirotkin, who will bring an estimated £13million in backing to Williams, will join forces with Canadian teenager Lance Stroll to form the most inexperienced line-up on the grid.

Stroll, 19, will enter only his second season while Sirotkin replaces Felipe Massa who retired for a second time at the end of last year.

“To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,” Sirotkin said. “It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved.

“The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.”

Sirotkin, who has twice finished third in the GP2 championship, the feeder series to Formula One, has been a test driver for Sauber and Renault.

He tested against Kubica, in what was seen as a straight shoot-out for the seat alongside Stroll, following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. He is the third Russian to land a full-time seat in Formula One.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams added: “We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I’m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team. 

“The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos.

“Lance has had a record-breaking debut season, and with a year now under his belt, he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018.

“We have a talented driver line-up for 2018, that we are confident will deliver some exciting results for the team.”

The announcement by Williams is the final piece in the driver jigsaw for this year’s campaign which gets under way in Melbourne on March 25.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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