Ex-Formula 1 test driver Susie Wolff believes the series' decision to scrap grid girls for the 2018 season is "a step in the right direction", but stressed she was not offended by the practice during her time as a racing driver.

Wolff became the first woman to take part in an F1 race weekend in 2014 when she entered practice for the British and German Grands Prix, and hung up her helmet at the end of 2015 to focus on her new initiative for females in motorsport, Dare To Be Different.

F1 confirmed earlier this week it would no longer be using grid girls from the 2018 season, sparking wild debate throughout motorsport and the wider sporting world.

In a piece written for BBC Sport, Wolff wrote that while she felt it was a good step, she was never offended by the usage of grid girls, nor did she believe them to be the biggest priority for F1 bosses to focus on.

"In my position as a female within motorsport for over 25 years, the use of 'grid girls' wasn't something that offended me. Neither was it something I saw as one of Formula 1's priorities to change to allow the sport to evolve," Wolff wrote.

"The owners of F1 are saying it is not what they want to see as an image representing the sport, and it is not what they want to portray the sport as. 'Grid girls' were a tradition within the sport.

"You can say, on a positive note, that the owners of F1 have made a clear statement with their decision. This is not going to change overnight the lack of female representation in motorsport but could it be a step in the right direction? I believe so."

Wolff has enjoyed success with Dare To Be Different, opening motorsport up to a new generation of young women, and is watching with keen interest to see what F1 does to help further female involvement in the series.

"I set up the Dare To Be Different organisation to try to promote efforts to make a step-change, to drive female talent," Wolff wrote.

"Let's take the successful women in the sport and make role models out of them to inspire others. Let's get school girls around an F1 show car and allow them to dream. Let's increase the talent pool of girls and women entering the sport.

"The next generation are now in prominent roles within teams and in the management of F1. From my personal experience they are a lot more open to the fact that women are capable of achieving the same things as men in a competitive and performance-based environment.

"I am watching with curiosity and hope. Grid girls are gone, like it or not, but more importantly - what's next on the agenda?"

 

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