Formula One boss Chase Carey has assured fans the sport will lose none of its glamour despite the decision to end the use of 'grid girls'.
Last week F1 confirmed it will use youngsters from junior motorsport categories to fill the grid before races rather than promotional female models, a tradition dating back several decades. The decision has provoked a big debate -- some have argued it is an antiquated practice, while many figures have criticised it, such as three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who accused F1 of being "prudish".
"I think the reaction [to the scrapping of grid girls] has been what we expected," Carey is quoted as saying in the Telegraph. "We've had some people who have been positive about it and others who were concerned. Unsurprisingly, many long-term fans view it as part of the sport they grew up with and I respect that.
"Actually if you just left it up to me, personally, I like the grid girls. But it's not a decision for me, it's a decision for fans. And I think what we found is that a number of people anecdotally raised the issue, and as I went around what I found was there was a meaningful segment that found it ... I don't know whether offensive is too strong - but found it exploitative or did not find it appropriate for the world we live in today."
He added: "When you have as many people as I found who really felt it was outdated and who felt it didn't belong in the sport today, you have to be cognisant of that. The number that were passionately positive on the other side were much smaller."
Carey does not think it is fair to suggest the decision means F1 will lose any of the appeal which has made it so famous.
"We're going to maintain glamour. We're going to continue to have pretty girls at races. I think it's a part of life, and it's a part of what makes our sport special. It is a sport of glamour and of mystique. But I think you have to continue to evolve. In today's world there are obviously different sensitivities to 10-12 years ago. I don't think you can just be stubborn."