F1 dropped the ball on Indian GP

The Indian Grand Prix this weekend could be the last if Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn is correct. It seems the team boss is disappointed in the lack of promotion of Formula 1 in the country and suggests that this is the reason for the race’s failure. She told AUTOSPORT:

“That has been the problem that we have not been able to market ourselves properly in there,” she said.

“We have not been able to convince that many Indian companies. You can count the Indian companies that are in F1 since then on one hand. We’ve somewhere collectively failed to do more there.”

It brings up a point we’ve made several times about Formula 1’s lack of promotion. It reaps big rewards and does very little self-promotion in order to gain those returns. It has relied on teams to do a lot of the heavy lifting if they want to make the most of their sponsor’s investments in each nation they race. I recall seeing a Mobil 1 billboard on the way to Austin last year with Jenson’s mug on it and thought it was a shame that Mobile had to promote the race and not F1.

Has F1 failed India, China, Korea and possibly Russia when it comes on line in 2014? What about the U.S.? Has it failed the Circuit of the Americas?

What I can tell you is the difference in which COTA and other circuits go about promotion. To COTA’s credit, I get a steady stream of information from them. Some of it is small and barely mentionable and other information is big news. Either way, it is communicating effectively and frequently.

I get none of that from other circuits that F1B is listed with as media but don’t let that sway your opinion because we’re not AUTOSPORT or major news outlets. We could be in the crap blogger section of their important communiqué initiatives.

COTA knows very well that track economics have to work. If India, China, Russia, Korea or any other circuit thinks they can build a track, host a F1 race and make money, they are sorely mistaken. You have to have that track working every weekend to keep the revenue coming.

This, however, isn’t what Monisha is talking about. Track economics is an issue that the Buddh Circuit has to wrestle to the ground on their own. What she’s speaking of is the success of the actual F1 race there and in that light, she’s right. F1 does little promotion.

India has created its own challenges as well with taxation of the sport…or is that “entertainment”? Each nation has its own issues but India seems to be the most visible in the press. Even COTA’s ownership issues were muted comparatively.

Can a nation such as India, China, Korea or Russia get excited about F1? America is an example of a market that F1 has failed to gain a big following and they blame it on the notion of having too many sports to compete with for the attention of viewers. Is that the case in India, China, Korea or Malaysia? Was that the issue in Turkey?

I believe Formula 1 grand prix racing should take itself seriously and start working on a foundational marketing campaign in which to dovetail into sponsor and team campaigns for each nation it visits. I believe Monisha is right even though India has stubbed its own toe in the dash for F1 legitimacy on the national stage.

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