The FIA has announced it will be introducing Grid Kids in Formula 1.
Young racers who compete in karting or junior formulae will be chosen by their motorsports club on merit or through a lottery to stand alongside F1 drivers ahead of a Grand Prix.
The announcement comes following F1’s decision to end its use of grid girls, describing it as “at odds with modern day societal norms.”
The youngsters will attend the race with their family and be given paddock access on race day, and will also be used during the support races such as F2 and GP3 where possible.
In a statement announcing the move, F1 Managing Director of Commercial Operations Sean Bratches said: “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. 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.”
FIA President Jean Todt added: “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor sport 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. 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.”
Grid Kids aren’t an entirely new concept; Formula E first used youngsters during their 2016-17 season finale in Canada after deciding to scrap grid girls. Similar to the F1 plans, the electric series selects kids who are aspiring drivers or race in junior go-kart championships.