Alonso, Grand Prix Timings & Grid Girls
Graham Read, Formula 1 Correspondent
It’s been quite a week for Formula 1 related announcements as double world champion Fernando Alonso is set to compete in endurance racing this year as well as F1 and Liberty Media, the new owners of the latter, has tinkered with current race weekend timings and abolished grid girls.
Alonso is something of a modern day Jim Clark or Graham Hill, a racer who is driven through his passion to compete in categories beyond merely Formula 1.
After making his Indianapolis 500 debut last year in impressive style on the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix the Spaniard competed in the Daytona 24 Hour race in the US a week ago and is now set to dovetail racing for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship alongside his F1 commitments for the McLaren team.
This means his 2018 diary is now full of a gruelling 25 race weekends all around the world, with five consecutive ones starting with the Canadian Grand Prix in early June. Alonso is a likeable character with plenty of natural resilience, but even his deep level of personal dedication to his sport will be challenged by what lies ahead for him.
Apart from another F1 season during which his McLaren car should prove to be more competitive following a move from Honda to Renault power I am sure that one of the highlights of his racing year will be making his Le Mans 24 Hour debut for Toyota in mid June.
Liberty Media has amended the race start time of all 21 Formula 1 Grand Prix this year to ten minutes past the hour rather than starting exactly on the hour. Many television broadcasters around the world tend to start their F1 live programming on the hour just as the race begins and F1’s owners are keen for viewers to also be able to experience the crucial tense 10 minute period before each Grand Prix start.
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As for grid girls, who have been an integral part of the glitz and glamour of the Formula 1 scene for decades, Liberty Media has abolished their use with effect from the first race of the new season in Australia next month, citing that the practice is “at odds with modern day societal norms”.
The announcement, which follows a similar move by the Professional Darts Association last month, has generated both support and criticism within the F1 world and amongst fans. Senior Mercedes F1 figure Niki Lauda and many current grid girls have called for the decision to be reversed, but it remains to be seen whether this will be the case.
Meanwhile, other branches of top level motorsport are reviewing their stance on the subject, but it already seems highly likely that grid girls will still feature prominently at every round of the popular British Touring Car Championship this year.
Alonso, Grand Prix Timings & Grid Girls, 4th February 2018, 12:37 PM