Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey admits selling major sponsorship deals has been harder than expected, but insists there has been increased interest from potential partners in 2019.
When Liberty Media took over as F1's commercial rights holder in early 2017, its management promised there would be more series sponsors, comparing F1's situation with the large number of companies affiliated to major US sports.
But Liberty has not added to the core group of 'global partners' put together under Carey's predecessor Bernie Ecclestone, which is comprised of Heineken, DHL, Pirelli, Emirates and Rolex - although sources suggest that one major name is set to be announced for next season.
Carey says Liberty started from "ground zero" in terms of having to build sponsor interest when it took over, but says F1 has "never been busier" in this regard despite the process being "slower and harder than I would have planned".
"Our cupboard was pretty bare, because we didn't really have a sponsor group," Carey told Autosport.
"We hadn't created any tools. We hadn't created capabilities to tell the story of F1, to create some excitement.
"We have some momentum today. We've had attendance up, we've had viewership up - we've got a good story, we've got new dimensions to the sport.
"And I think you need to tell that story, and you need to develop tools.
"Sponsors want partnerships that are more tailored uniquely to them. In the past, signs on a wall worked fine - that doesn't work now.
"So we had to develop the array of initiatives, whether it's digital initiatives, regional feeds, virtual ads, fan festivals, all those types of opportunities to create tailored targeted opportunities."
"The traction with interested sponsors has been on a steady rise - we've never been busier.
"I've got a three-page back list of sponsors we're engaged with. Obviously, until the sponsors are signed, deals aren't done.
"Certainly, I'd say we feel we have gotten progressively better as we've gone along.
"So while it's been slower and harder than I would have planned it to be a couple of years ago, I think that in many ways is the nature of where we started, and we started really from ground zero."
Despite a lack of major sponsorship deals, F1 reported a small gain in revenue in the second financial quarter of 2019 compared to the previous year, with total income up to $620million from $585m.
Carey believes F1 "sells well", and is adamant that it stands as an attractive proposition for potential partners.
"This is a sport that sells well, it's a unique sport with passionate fans, attractive fans," he said.
"The sport differentiates from other sports - given its marriage to technology, given the nature of the sport, the global aspect of the sport.
"At a point in time where events in a world that is increasingly 'commoditised' and fragmented, events that rise above are reasonably valued.
"So I think the interest and engagement we have has been on a steady rise."
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th