Niki Lauda has become the latest high profile name to wade into the grid girl debate in Formula 1 by calling it “a decision against women” and feels banning grid girls in the sport won’t provide any benefits.

The non-executive chairman of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 has blasted the decision by Liberty Media to end the use of grid girls on F1 starting grids from 2018 and feels the idea should be overturned in the future.

Lauda, who made his F1 debut in 1971 when grid girls were emerging as a prominent part of the sport, believes the grid girl ban goes against encouraging women to become involved the sport and says he wants to encourage more women into a variety of roles.

“This is a decision against women,” Lauda said to Austrian newspaper 'Der Standard'. “Men have made the decision over the heads of women. This is not doing any favours to F1 and especially not for women. How stupid can they be? Are they nuts?

“I hope there is a way to reverse the decision. I wouldn't mind seeing grid boys next to grid girls. Why not?

“Grid girls have always belonged in F1, and they should continue to belong in F1. Women are stepping up [into senior roles], and they are doing it very well as it is moving in the right direction. But one does not exclude the other. I don't want to hold back women, I want to encourage them.

“If you continue on this path, there will be no cheerleaders left in America.”

Lauda’s comments follow a recent backlash to F1’s announcement to drop the use of grid girls from 2018, with former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone slamming the decision by stating “the country at the moment is getting a bit prudish.”