epa06488047 (FILE) Grid Girls pose prior to the qualifying session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 02 November 2013 (reissued 31 January 2018). According to reports on 31 January 2018, Formula One have announced they will end the long-established practice of using walk-on grid girls, commencing with the start of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship season. EPA-EFE pic

LONDON: Formula One announced a “grid kids” programme on Monday to replace the female models who have previously featured before the start of every grand prix.

The sport’s owners said in a statement that the new arrangement, in partnership with the governing FIA, would “make the pre-race ceremony more relevant and interesting for fans, especially the younger ones.”

It said the youngsters would be selected by their motorsport clubs on merit, or by lottery, from among those already competing in karting or junior series.

Last week’s decision to abandon the decades-old practice of using walk-on female models to parade and hold up drivers’ numbers on the starting grid has put the sport on the front pages of newspapers and divided fans.

The season starts in Australia on March 25. — REUTERS

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