Max Verstappen Meyakini F1 GP Cina 2024 Bakal Hadirkan Tantangan Besar

I Gede Ardy Estrada

Editor: I Gede Ardy Estrada

Max Verstappen
Bintang Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen mengungkapkan kunci suksesnya menjadi pembalap hebat di Formula 1. (Dede Mauladi/Skor.id)

SKOR.idMax Verstappen belum pernah memenangi Grand Prix Cina. Ini membuat juara dunia Formula 1 tiga kali meyakini balapan di Shanghai akhir pekan nanti akan menantang baginya dan Red Bull Racing.

Kendati demikian, ia tetap difavoritkan bisa finis terdepan untuk kali pertama dalam balapan F1 GP Cina, yang perdana sejak 2019, pada 19-21 April 2024. 

Event di Sirkuit Internasional Shanghai kembali masuk kalender kejuaraan dunia balap jet darat setelah absen empat musim akibat pandemi global Covid-19 pada awal 2020.

Saat ini Verstappen memimpin klasemen pembalap berkat kemenangan pada putaran keempat F1 2024, GP Jepang, 7 April lalu. Ia unggul 13 poin atas rekan setimnya di Red Bull, Sergio Perez, di ranking kedua.

F1 GP Cina 2024 juga akan menandai sprint perdana musim ini, dengan format baru yang digunakan, Kini sprint shootout (kualifikasi sprint) digelar Jumat sore setelah latihan.

Lalu sesi sprint atau race singkat bakal dilangsungkan Sabtu pagi sebelum kualifikasi balapan utama pada sore hari. Menurut Max Verstappen, itu membuat GP Cina jadi lebih sulit.

“Kami sudah menantikan (balapan) di Cina karena akan menghadirkan tantangan besar di depan kami, khususnya karena ini adalah sprint weekend,” ujar Verstappen dikutip dari RacingNews365.

“Mengingat kami belum pernah balapan di trek ini sejak 2019, dan dengan (cuma) satu sesi latihan, kami perlu memastikan semuanya, harus menyetel mobil sebaik mungkin dan juga mengelola ban.”

“Elemen tambahan ini akan menciptakan lebih banyak kegembiraan bagi para penggemar, dan itu bagus. Tim juga telah bekerja keras untuk mempersiapkannya,” ia menambahkan. 

Mengenai kansnya di Shanghai, pembalap kebangsaan Belanda tersebut cukup optimistis walau belum pernah menang di sana. Raihan terbaik Max Verstappen dalam F1 GP Cina adalah posisi tiga pada 2017. 

“Ini adalah trek balap yang bagus di Cina dan memiliki layout unik, dengan tikungan yang lebih rumit dan sektor lurus panjang yang bisa menghadirkan banyak peluang untuk menyalip,” kata Verstappen.

“Saya selalu senang berkendara di sirkuit ini, jadi kami menantikan apa yang akan terjadi akhir pekan ini,” pungkas pembalap yang sukses memenangi tiga dari empat putaran F1 2024 yang telah bergulir.   

Selain itu, Red Bull berpotensi mencetak sejarah di F1 GP Cina 2024. Jika Verstappan atau Sergio Perez berhasil mencatatkan waktu lap terbaik dalam kualifikasi, maka tim akan meraih pole position ke-100.

Sejauh ini, baru ada lima tim yang telah menembus 100 pole di Formula 1, yakni Ferrari (249), McLaren (156), Mercedes (137), Williams (128), dan Lotus (107).               

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