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Leclerc disappointed that Ferrari lacked pace to fight Verstappen in Miami

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Charles Leclerc said Red Bull’s superior tyre management during the Miami Grand Prix meant they were too quick for Ferrari as the Monegasque surrendered victory to title rival Max Verstappen.

Championship leader Leclerc led away from pole and began gradually building a lead over Verstappen, who had jumped the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz at the start. But as the stint went on Verstappen emerged as the faster of the two, and passed Leclerc to take the lead.

Leclerc attacked Verstappen for several laps once the duo had swapped from the medium to the hard tyres, but then fell back – and from there, Verstappen eased to his third win in five races.

READ MORE: Verstappen wins inaugural Miami Grand Prix over Leclerc after late Safety Car drama

“Yes, I’m disappointed,” said Leclerc after the race. “We are very strong in terms of tyre warm up so at the beginning of every run we are strong. But after four, five laps they [Red Bull] seem to stabilise the tyres in a better window and there they are just quicker than us and it’s very difficult for us to do anything.

“But it’s like this and we need to work on that. It’s pretty clear what’s going on and hopefully we’ll get better at it as quick as possible.”

Carlos Sainz: Podium finish in Miami Grand Prix was 'exactly what I needed'

Leclerc retains the lead in the drivers’ championship, but Verstappen has slashed it to just 19 points as the paddock prepares to head to the next race in Barcelona.

After Verstappen’s second win on the bounce, Leclerc says Red Bull have the upper hand and it’s up to Ferrari to wrestle back control.

“It is going to be a long championship,” said Leclerc. “It seems that they had the upper hand for two weekends now in race pace especially, and we need to take back the advantage as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: Verstappen elated with 'comeback' win in Miami – but calls on Red Bull to iron out 'hit and miss' weekends

When asked if he preferred to be the hunter to the hunted in the championship fight, Leclerc – who completed his 16th consecutive race finish - replied: “We have been in only one position since the beginning of the season which means we are hunted.

“I quite like this position but it’s also true that the gap is slowly closing down. I don’t mind whichever position I am in I want to be the most competitive out there…”

Verstappen was asked the same question, to which he responded: “I like the position I am in at the moment, knowing the car is quick and at the end of last year I was being hunted and that wasn’t great because I knew we didn’t have the pace and it was going to be tricky. It depends on how competitive you are as well.”

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