'Grid kids' will replace 'grid girls' in F1 this year

Following last week's announcement that Formula One will no longer use 'grid girls', the sport has launched a new 'grid kids' initiative ahead of the start of the 2018 season.

In an attempt to make the "pre-race ceremony more relevant and interesting for fans", young drivers taking part in karting and junior formulae will accompany F1's current stars on the grid ahead of the start of the race. The news follows F1's decision last Wednesday to no longer employ female models to hold flags and driver number boards ahead of races.

Local motor sport authorities will choose the 'grid kids' based on merit or by lottery ahead of each race as part of a joint venture between the FIA and F1.

FIA President Jean Todt said: "Formula One 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."

Sean Bratches, F1 Managing Director of Commercial Operations, added: "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 One heroes."

When possible the 'grid kids' will also take part in pre-race ceremonies for support events too. They will be accompanied by their immediate family who will also have F1 paddock access on race day.

The first race of the season will take place in Australia on March 25.