Formula 1 team bosses need to stop acting like "prima donnas" and instead take the lead in helping Bernie Ecclestone make the sport more attractive for fans, claims Lotus chief Federico Gastaldi.
Amid ongoing debate about what changes F1 needs to improve the show, Gastaldi says all teams have been guilty of not doing enough to make grand prix racing better.
As a former promoter of the Argentine Grand Prix, Gastaldi says F1 has not adapted to the changing media landscape that demands sports do more to sell themselves amid increasing competition and the rise of social media.
“We have been talking about how to improve the show since the beginning of last year and we [the teams] are guilty of all charges,” Gastaldi told Motorsport.com.
“There are so many opinions but for some reason or another, we have not been helpful enough to bring these new ideas into action.
“Bernie keeps pushing us to try to be more open. There are many, many things on the agenda, but there are points we can improve that don't need money.
“Like being more approachable. The drivers and management can be more open with the journalists and TV crews, and we can have the drivers more accessible to the fans. We should do more [promotional] events."
Promoters need help
Gastaldi is adamant that teams need to listen to concerns from race promoters that they are not being helped enough to attract more fans to races.
“Obviously I cannot point fingers at anyone in particular, but we became prima donnas in the paddock. I think we need to be more open to help Mr. E to make the show more approachable to the fans.
“It is down to all of us. It is our responsibility. Because if we do not help the promoters then we will not be here. If there are no promoters there is no F1.”
Gastaldi thinks F1 is still stuck in the mindset that grand prix racing is big enough to attract sell-out crowds at events without promotion.
But he is adamant that times have changed from the period when, as promoter of the Argentine GP, F1 was able to secure bumper audiences with little extra efforts.
“I was a promoter in Argentina and we were very lucky because in those days, if you go there and talked about bringing F1, it would be fully, fully sold out. We were very lucky.
“I learned a little bit when I ran the Grand Prix with my brothers and partners, and also we did MotoGP and I managed to meet other promoters.
“So when I came to this side of the business [involved with team in F1], it was a different animal.
“Back then they [race promoters] didn't need so much help because it was going very well. Now there are so many other options: with social media which has won the attention of the young generation.
“So we need to know how to approach these guys and we need to help the promoters. We have to work out how we can be helpful.”