Tony Fernandes has renewed his campaign for Formula 1 to do more to promote itself better in new markets, saying additional efforts are necessary if the sport is to grow its fan base in the future.
Amid an expansion of the F1 calendar outside of Europe, with India and South Korea having been added in the past two years, and the U.S. and Russia coming in over the next few years, grand prix racing is facing the challenge of attracting new spectators if the events are to be a success. With fresh memories of how some new venues, such as Turkey, have struggled to attract an audience, Fernandes thinks that a different approach may be needed.
Writing in the latest edition of the FIA Institute's IQ magazine, the AirAsia and Team Lotus [Caterham] chief believed that efforts had to go beyond the traditional way of trying to create a culture of grass-roots motorsports.
"We need to keep the sport simple when it is introduced to new countries," said Fernandes. "Motor racing – and specifically F1 – is complicated, but the more understandable we make it, the easier it will be to get the newer countries involved.
"You can't take F1 to India for the first time and treat that audience the same way you would the hugely knowledgeable tifosi at Monza. Italy has 90 years of heritage; India is brand-new. I also think the teams and the drivers need to spend more time in the countries they're visiting.
"When I was in the music business, nothing beat bringing an artist to the country. Touching and feeling the sport is important. And we have to get away from the idea that F1 is a once-a-year thing that then goes away. It can't just be about that. There needs to be bigger, wider promotion of the event, more coverage around the event, more TV programming from behind the scenes, as well as more journalists engaging with the event and more television promoting the rest of the season."