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‘Grid Kids’ to replace ‘Grid Girls’ in Formula 1 for this season

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PARIS (AP) — “Grid kids” are replacing “grid girls” in Formula One as the motorsport series continues to change ahead of the new season.

F1 says youngsters from motorsport clubs, who for example are already competing in karting, will stand alongside drivers on the grid before races this season.

Monday’s announcement comes after the series last week ended the long-standing practice of using women on the grid, and on the podium with the top three drivers, because this no longer fits in with Formula One’s values and societal norms.

The latest initiative is joint venture by the FIA – motorsport’s governing body – and F1’s owners.

FIA President Jean Todt says “Grid Kids” gives “future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes.”

Sean Bratches, F1’s managing director of commercial operations, adds: “What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”

F1 is owned by Liberty Media, which is changing the way the sport is run since taking over from former commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone in January 2017.

The season starts on March 25 at the Australian Grand Prix.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.