Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are enjoying their roles as hunter and prey in the F1 title fight

Charles Leclerc leads the drivers’ standings in Formula 1, but Max Verstappen quickly catches up with him. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula One/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc say they are both enjoying their respective roles as hunter and prey in the early stages of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship battle.

The Red Bull driver clinched a second consecutive win at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday night to reduce the Ferrari man’s lead at the top of the standings to 19 points after completing five rounds of the season.

It was the Dutchman’s third win of the season as he maintained his record of winning every race he finished in 2020, with mechanical failures in Bahrain and Australia likely cost him at least two second places and 36 points to put him ahead Leclerc, how things stand. Those two races were both won by the Monegasque, who was leading before Verstappen’s RB18 encountered reliability issues.

At recent Grands Prix in Florida and Imola, the Red Bull was significantly quicker than the Ferrari at race pace and Verstappen has taken victories at both circuits despite qualifying behind his rival. On both occasions, the Red Bull’s superior straight-line speed, combining higher engine power with lower downforce, has now given the Ferrari a chance to defend.

Despite Verstappen’s frustration with his squad’s reliability issues and Leclerc’s concern that the Scuderia’s machines are slower by today’s standards, both men are enjoying the positions they currently find themselves in.

“I think we’ve only been in one position since the start of the season, which means we’re being hunted now,” Leclerc said after the race.

“I really like this position to be honest because it means you are doing something right. But it’s also true that these are two races where the gap is slowly closing. But yeah, I don’t mind being honest about what position I’m in. I just want to be the most competitive out there and at the moment it seems like Red Bull has the upper hand in the races.’

For Verstappen, the change from last season when he was chased by faster Lewis Hamilton in the final few races of an exciting season is welcome.


Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc seem poised for a lengthy title fight. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“I like the position I’m in right now because I know the car is fast,” said Verstappen. “And for example, late last year, of course, I was the one being hunted. And that wasn’t actually a great position because I knew we didn’t have the pace anymore. I knew it would be very difficult until the end. So yes, it just depends a bit on how competitive you are.

The sixth round of the 2022 F1 season takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona over the weekend of May 20-22.

Lewis Hamilton questions Mercedes team over strategy confusion at F1 Miami Grand Prix

Toto Wolff won’t rule out a shock Mercedes move which could make his F1 car ‘a lot slower’

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General Sports Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are enjoying their roles as hunter and prey in the F1 title fight

Nate Jones

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