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America the land of opportunity for F1: Whitmarsh

Keeping Track: Official Podcast of the Australian Grand Prix

With Formula One set to venture to the United States for the first time in five years, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has implored the sport to learn from its mistakes in order to make an impact in America.

Ahead of this weekend’s inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in an exclusive interview with the Australian Grand Prix’s ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Whitmarsh said that Formula One needs to treat the US as a completely new market.

“We need North America more than it needs us, and therefore we’ve got to be prepared to work at it, adapt the sport if necessary but make sure we do everything we can so we can appeal to the American market,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a product that’s very different to NASCAR but ought to be able to conquer America. We’ve failed to do so (because) we’ve been intermittent in our time there, we’ve generally been in the wrong place and we’ve done no promotion.”

Formula One has raced at nine different venues in the US without ever gaining a foothold in the country, with the most recent Grand Prix held at Indianapolis in 2007. Whitmarsh believes changes to the sport in recent years to enhance the spectacle will help to attract new fans.

“North American sport focuses significantly on entertainment. Formula One over the years has probably not placed enough emphasis on that (but) now, if you look at the last few championships, you’ve got a lack of predictability,” he said.

“Things like DRS, which the purists would never have accepted in yesteryear, was a right and appropriate concession to be made to the spectacle.”

In a wide-ranging interview with ‘Keeping Track’, Whitmarsh discussed how McLaren has been preparing for the US Grand Prix for the last 12 months, the prospects of developing an American driver or team in the near future, and why the US holds such commercial significance for the sport.

‘Keeping Track’ is the official podcast of the Australian Grand Prix, and features interviews with a host of key Formula One and MotoGP names at regular intervals throughout the season.

You can subscribe to the podcast for free through iTunes or through Podomatic.

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