Whitmarsh worried that F1 has not made impact in China

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 signs autographs for the fans. Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday 12 April 2012.

Kimi Raikkonen with F1 fans in China

Shanghai has been on Formula 1’s annual calendar since 2004, but so far the Grand Prix and Formula 1 in general have not made the expected impact on the crucial Chinese market.

“I’m worried about China,” McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted to AP news agency.

“The potential is huge, the importance is massive and we must make it successful there,” he said.

Whitmarsh thinks that, collectively, the sport has not done enough to promote itself in China, the most populous country on earth with arguably the most important economy.

“We need to work a little harder,” he said. “We as a sport are a little bit arrogant. ‘We’re Formula 1. We arrive and people will want to come to see us.’

“But China doesn’t need us,” Whitmarsh insisted.

A Chinese hero would help. Caterham already has Ma Qing Hua – a Shanghai local – on its reserve driver roster in 2013, and on Friday he will contest the morning practice session.

“For me, we just need some time to let people understand this sport,” Ma said.

“At the moment, Formula 1 is already a top five sport in China. It’s quite big and growing very fast.” (GMM)