The FIA has announced a new initiative that will see children from around the globe chosen to ‘accompany and stand alongside’ Formula 1 drivers on the grid before each race in 2018.
The scheme – called Grid Kids – will involve the local Grand Prix promoter and ASNs – the FIA-recognised national sporting authority – and will see youngsters involved in motorsport clubs, which are racing in karting or junior formulae, chosen to attend races and join the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen on the grid.
The news comes on the back of the decision from the FIA to ban the use of Grid Girls, which has received a mixed reaction, but Jean Todt, the President of the FIA, feels the introduction of Grid Kids will give the youngsters an opportunity to bring more realism to their dream of being a future champion in the sport.
“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and the dream of every young racer competing the junior series that make up the FIA’s single-seater pyramid, from karting all the way to F1,” said Todt.
“We are therefore delighted to bring that dream a little closer by giving the future champions of our sport the opportunity to stand alongside their heroes on the grid in the build-up to the race start.
“For the wider FIA, this is an excellent initiative that provides additional support to our member ASNs in their efforts to grow motorsport worldwide through a unique reward they can make available to youngsters participating in their national series.”
The scheme is likely to be extended to cover the major supporting categories including FIA Formula 2 and GP3 Series, with Sean Bratches, Formula 1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations saying the youngsters chosen will have an unforgettable experience standing beside their heroes.
“This will be an extraordinary moment for these youngsters: imagine, standing beside their heroes, watch as they prepare to race, the elite of the elite in motorsport, to be there, alongside them in those precious few minutes just before the start,” said Bratches.
“What an unforgettable experience, for them, and their families. An inspiration to keep driving, training and learning so that they can dream of one day being there themselves. What better way to inspire the next generation of Formula 1 heroes.”