Whitmarsh: F1 needs to sell itself

Date published: April 18 2011

FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh said the sport cannot take its popularity for granted and must do more to promote itself…

FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh said the sport cannot take its popularity for granted and must do more to promote itself.

Ticket prices for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix were discounted to attract fans to an event which had long struggled to generate local interest.

“We have fantastic worldwide TV audiences but we have to work harder at the circuits,” Whitmarsh said. “You’d struggle to find much promotion in downtown Shanghai and we have to do more.

“It’s a similar story in Istanbul, which is where we go next. Go around Istanbul on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday and tell me how many billboards or advertisements you see.”

Whitmarsh, who is also team principal of McLaren, said marketing efforts must be stepped up as Formula One enters the key new market of India this year, returns to the United States in 2012 and then moves into Russia.

“F1 is used to going to new venues that don’t really understand F1, but we are not good at promoting our sport in new territories,” Whitmarsh said.

“We need to learn that lesson before we go back into the U.S. market. We can’t just plonk ourselves down and believe that America will re-ignite any enthusiasm for F1. We need to work harder.”