London: Formula One served up a thriller in China at the weekend but the lack of fans indicated the sport must do more to sell itself to new audiences, according to McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.
While few could fault the racing on display, with McLaren`s Lewis Hamilton hunting down Red Bull`s world champion Sebastian Vettel to end the German`s winning streak, empty seats in the grandstands throughout the weekend caused concern.
The monumental Shanghai circuit has now hosted eight grands prix but, in a thriving economy with a vast potential audience, the race has yet to pull in the big crowds that might be expected.
"Formula One is used to going to venues that know and understand Formula One and want us," Whitmarsh told reporters.
"I`m not blaming anyone because we`re all part of it, but we`re not good at promoting our sport in new territories and I think you`ve got evidence of that not just in China."
The next race is at Turkey`s Istanbul Park circuit on May 8. Now promoted by F1`s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, it is on the Asian side of the city away from the main tourist areas and has had pitiful attendances in the past.
"We`ve got to work harder at it," said Whitmarsh, who is also chairman of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) and has been involved in various initiatives to bring the sport closer to the fans.
"Fortunately we still have a fantastic worldwide television audience but we need to work harder at circuits that are in new territories to promote the sport."