Shanghai F1: A glass half full or half empty?

Updated: 2016-04-23 02:52

By Alywin Chew in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Shanghai F1: A glass half full or half empty?

Empty spectator stands at the Shanghai International Circuit are covered by tarpaulin and adorned with the Chinese words 'Anting', a town in Jiading district where the track is located. gao erqiang / china daily

Opinion on the Chinese F1 Grand Prix is evidently divided, with some saying that it has failed to reach its full potential while others claim there is still much promise for China’s motor racing scene

The Shanghai Formula 1 Grand Prix has in the past few years received flak for its dwindling attendance figures, which some critics say indicate an apathy toward the sport, and it seems the criticism has stemmed from a comparison to a benchmark that was perhaps set too high in the early stages.

The glass was deemed to be full when the attendance figures peaked at 270,000 for the second edition of the Shanghai race in 2005. However, the crowd numbers over the past decade have been almost halved, with local media reporting that only 120,000 people attended the 2009. This year's attendance of 160,000 people over three days was reported by local media to be the biggest turnout in four years.

Industry experts that China Daily USA spoke to all agreed that the 2006 retirement of Michael Schumacher, a seven-time F1 champion and two-time winner of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, was a major factor that caused audience figures to nosedive. The German later came back to race for Mercedes from 2010 to 2012.

Another reason was the shift of F1 telecast from state broadcaster CCTV to regional outlets in 2013. Audience figures that year reportedly suffered a drop from 30 million to 19 million.

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