Unsurprisingly, F1 owner Liberty Media's announcement that grid girls would be banned from the sport from 2018 on was enough to spark controversy. Fans on each side of the fence have fought over what they feel is right, and in recent weeks, significant figures within the Formula 1 community have voiced their opinion on the decision. The most recent celebrity that falls into that category is three-time world champion and current Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda who clearly stands against the new ruling.
Lauda, an often outspoken personality in motorsport politics, explained his standing on the situation to Austrian newspaper Der Standard.
"This is a decision against women. Men have made the decision over the heads of women. This is not doing any favors to F1 and especially not for women. How dumb can someone be? Women have emancipated themselves and do very well at it. So this is a decision against women."
Lauda drew the comparison of women in the industry who have made the move to executive positions including Claire Williams, executive team principal of Williams F1. He pointed out that, while women are gaining newfound success in upper-level roles, this should not take away from their positions as grid girls, models, etc.
“Grid girls have always belonged in F1, and they should continue to belong in F1,” the Austrian mentioned. “Women are stepping up (into senior team roles), and they are doing it very well—it is moving in the right direction. But one does not exclude the other. I don't want to hold back women, I want to encourage them.
“If you continue on this path, there will be no cheerleaders left in America.”
Former grid girl Rebecca Cooper took a similar stance on the issue, saying that equality doesn't mean picking and choosing what roles are considered acceptable for women. She took to Twitter to express her opinion: