Monday, June 17, 2024

Veteran commentator insists F1 is a lifetime obsession

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Pan Yongyong (left) was back in the commentary box for this year’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Chinese F1 fans may not be familiar with Pan Yongyong, but the phrase “Arctic Shrimp” is sure to ring a bell.

Known by his pen name “Arctic Shrimp,” a nod to his fondness for the delicacy, Pan served as a commentator and analyst for Shanghai TV’s Five Star Sports channel, where he provided insightful coverage of both Formula 1 and MotoGP races.

When the spotlight flashed on him in 2004, and the countdown to the live broadcast began, Pan’s life became inextricably linked to F1.

On June 6, 2004, the Ferrari F2003-GA — the 2003 championship-winning vehicle, joined 58 other Ferraris in a procession around the brand-new Shanghai International Circuit. Gerhard Berger drove Michael Schumacher’s championship-winning Ferrari for four laps. Chinese spectators had never heard the thunder of V8 engines at an F1 circuit before, and their screams echoed around the venue.

“At the time, some media friends were taking photos at Turn 1 but couldn’t stand it for more than 15 minutes,” Pan remembered 20 years later. “The sound surpassed 150 decibels. The feeling at the venue then was as if the ground trembled.”

The inaugural F1 Chinese Grand Prix took place at the Shanghai International Circuit from September 24 to 26 of the same year, drawing 260,000 spectators over three days and setting a single-day record of 150,000 attendees.

“The ticket sales at the time astounded the overseas media. They even had some admiration for us because the ambiance was wonderful, and the circuit’s hardware facilities, design standards, building procedures, and so on were far superior to other venues,” Pan said.

Pan became the official live commentator for the F1 Chinese Grand Prix in 2009 as F1 events in China developed and improved, offering fans live commentary at the Shanghai International Circuit from then on.

“We’re all growing up and getting older with F1. We have witnessed the changes in this circuit and city,” Pan said. “For those who enjoy this sport, it is a lifetime obsession. They’ve secretly supported it around the world. I believe that this is the purpose and significance of our existence as fans. With all this, I believe it is already more than enough.”

Pan currently holds track-related positions at Shanghai Juss Sports, where he contributes to the long-term development of Formula One in China.

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