Ex-Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has slammed the series' decision to ditch grid girls for the 2018 season, saying they were "part of the show" and did not offend anybody.

F1 announced on Wednesday it would no longer use grid girls from the start of the 2018 season, saying the practice is not "appropriate or relevant".

The decision sparked backlash from a number of fans on social media, with Ecclestone - F1's CEO until Liberty Media's takeover in January 2017 - also expressing his disappointment in the call.

"These girls were part of the show," Ecclestone told The Sun.

"Fans love the glamour. The country at the moment is getting a bit prudish.

"You should be allowed to have grid girls because the drivers like them, the audience like them and no one cares. These girls were part of the show, part of the spectacle.

"I can't see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula 1 car can be offensive to anybody."

The first F1 race without grid girls under the new scheme will take place on March 25 in Melbourne, Australia.