“I was not good enough to protect myself,” Melinda Messenger told The Sun.
The British woman, who is now 51 years old, was among the sport’s most famous “gridgirls” for a long time. The controversial phenomenon was comparable to podium women in cycling or “ringgirls” in boxing. In other words, it was, most often, lightly dressed ladies who stood in front of the cars in grand prix races and “threw shine” over the competitions.
Few of them were as well known as Messenger, who has made a career as a model, host of a number of TV shows in England and just “Grid Girl”.
But the medal had a dark backside. She especially highlights a story where the team’s masseur would give her a massage in the evening.
– I was naive and thought that «this is nice». But when I got it, I quickly realized it was wrong. Fortunately, I managed to escape in time. I never reported it, says Messenger to the British major newspaper.
The woman, who is now 51 years old, says that the episode was far from isolated:
– There were hundreds of such experiences. Hundreds.
– At that time I did not manage to protect myself. I had trouble setting boundaries. I was not good enough to stay away from situations that could end badly. Today, however, I can take care of myself.
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The “Grid Girls” scheme was long debated in the Formula 1 circus, but it came to an abrupt halt when Liberty Media acquired the rights to the sport from Bernie Ecclestone in 2018.
Sean Bratches, the company’s director, stated that he understood that it was a long tradition, but he thought it was time to put an end to it:
– It is not compatible with our values and is clearly not in line with modern social norms. We do not think this practice is appropriate, nor is it relevant to Formula 1 fans.