The sport has used grid girls for decades, but that practice will be banned from this season. So why have the sports owners Liberty Media made the decision to axe them and what does it say about their vision for the future?
Grid girls dropped for 2018
Liberty Media has announced that Formula One will stop using grid girls from the season-opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. In December, motorsport managing director Ross Brawn told BBC News that the use of female promotional models was “under review”.
In a statement on F1.com, commercial director Sean Bratches said “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.”
“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.” Last week the Professional Darts Corporation said walk-on girls will no longer be used at events.
The role of the grid had been to hold grid numbers and flags before the races. But in recent years the practice has been under scrutiny, the World Endurance Championship abandoned the practice in 2015.
A Formula One statement said the time on the grid ahead of the race would be used “as one of celebration, where guests and various performers can add to the glamour and spectacle of the grand prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products.”
Pirelli is bringing new tyres for the beginning of 2018. Looking ahead to pre-season testing racing manager Mario Isola says he is expecting lots of track evolution. But is it the tyres or the new track surface behind the evolution?
Pirelli expects lots of track evolution in testing
Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola expects there will a lot of track evolution during the first two days of pre-season testing following resurfacing work at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya.
Earlier this month the owners of the circuit agreed to carry out modifications with motorcycling’s governing body FIM, so they can retain the Catalan Grand Prix. Work is underway to resurface the whole circuit and extend the run off at Europcar.
Once the work is finished Pirelli is planning to send a couple of engineers to the circuit to gather data. Speaking to Autosport, Isola said “They [circuit officials] told me that the target is to make a Tarmac that is similar in terms of roughness to the old one. It is clear that it is not possible to have a new surface that is exactly the same, but that was the target.”
“Usually we measure the Tarmac roughness on Wednesday before each event. The idea is that next week we send a couple of engineers to measure it to compare the old one with the new one.” He added that the circuit is planning to run many cars before testing that should help with deciding compounds for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Isola suggested that they may need to reconsider the compounds because of the resurfacing. Saying that when Formula Two held its Japanese Grand Prix at Jerez, “Before the race we sent the engineers to measure the roughness, it was completely different, much smoother. We moved the allocation one step softer and it was not enough. Tarmac can make a big difference.”
We all by now know how Max Verstappen is. But why is his teammate Daniel Ricciardo believe that Verstappen is the only teammate which has challenged him?
Verstappen only teammate to challenge Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo says that he feels that his current teammate Max Verstappen has so far been the only teammate, which has he feels has been able to challenge him.
The two have been teammates since Verstappen was promoted from Toro Rosso in May 2016, going on to win on his debut for the team at the Spanish Grand Prix. Ricciardo beat then world champions Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship in 2014.
The Australian has also been teammates with Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne, Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi in an F1 career that began at HRT before he reached Red Bull. However, Ricciardo feels none of those drivers pushed him like Verstappen has.
He told Motorsport.com “I’m not saying I’ve had it easy in the past, but I think he’s the first driver who can challenge me. In the past, if I’ve done a high-speed corner and I’ve taken it flat-out.”
“For example, I’ve never had someone who can get there the same way. Max would at least go out there and try it. He’s been able to match stuff easier than some other guys have.” Ricciardo has beaten Verstappen in both seasons they have been teammates.
However, Verstappen out qualified him and finished ahead of him when the cars were not affected by reliability. Ricciardo says in 2017 he believes Verstappen’s “qualifying improved” but found their relative race pace harder to judge.
“If we were to split the races, we both had an even amount of good races. His good days probably looked better because they weren’t good days for me.” Ricciardo feels that they were “relatively” evenly match and expects a close fight in 2018.
He brought Formula One back to Melbourne and chaired the promoters association, this week Ron Walker died. We look back on Walker’s influence on the sport
Australia promoter Rob Walker dies
The promoter of the Australian Grand Prix Rob Walker has died aged seventy-eight. Walker was one of the most influential race promoters and was one of Melbourne’s most successful businessmen.
The city tasked him with putting together a bid to lure the race away from Adelaide, which proved successful. The city has held the race ever since with Walker serving as chairman for almost two decades. Walker was also one of the outspoken promoters often defending Bernie Ecclestone when he was in difficulty.
Walker also served as the chairman of the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA) for several years, before stepping down from his responsibilities in Melbourne in 2015 due to ill health.
At the time he was heavily critical of the new turbo hybrid regulations, which he believed did not deliver what fans wanted from F1. The death of Walker has drawn tributes for many local politicians, who praised the influence he had had on Melbourne.
Former Premier Jeff Kennett offered his tribute, saying the Victoria state would miss him greatly. Kennett said “Without Ron Walker Melbourne, Victoria, would not be what it is today. Through commerce, philanthropy, public service, freely given for decades.”
That’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye.