Covering the grandstands with sheets can't disguise the fact that the crowds have stayed away

The poor overall attendance at the Chinese Grand Prix is a reminder that the sport needs to do more to build its fan base in new markets, McLaren team boss and FOTA chief Martin Whitmarsh has warned.

Only a small crowd headed to Shanghai’s International Circuit – which was reportedly charging high prices for admission – to watch the Chinese Grand Prix, and circuit chiefs again reverted to covering several grandstands (pictured above) in advertising placards to cover for the lack of ticket sales.

A lack of local knowledge and enthusiasm for the event is obvious, Whitmarsh added, while many in the sport cited the difficulty getting to and from the venue with taxi drivers who had no idea where the circuit actually was.

“We have fantastic worldwide TV audiences but we have to work harder at the circuits,” Whitmarsh told the Associated Press.

“[But] it’s a similar story in Istanbul, which is where we go next. Go around Istanbul and tell me how many billboards or advertisements you see.”

He added that the issue will also carry importance when the circus returned to the United States next year, which has proven to be a near-impossible market to crack.

“We need to learn that lesson before we go back into the US market,” he added. “We can’t just plonk ourselves down and believe that America will reignite any enthusiasm for F1.”

[Original image via LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.