Max Verstappen backed for Miami Grand Prix win over Charles Leclerc

Juan Pablo Montoya believes that Max Verstappen has the edge ahead of Charles Leclerc for the Miami Grand Prix and has backed the Red Bull driver to secure victory this weekend.

The two stars are locked in a titanic battle for the Driver's Championship this season and are the only drivers to have finished a race as a winner in the opening four rounds of the 2022 season, though it hasn't been plain sailing for them both.

Verstappen had a slow start to his title defence, failing to finish two of the opening three races before his victory last time out at Imola, while a late mistake from Leclerc at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix cost the Ferrari ace a podium finish and saw him drop crucial points in his bid to remain ahead of Verstappen.

That leaves things delicately poised ahead of the maiden Miami Grand Prix this weekend, where both drivers face a new challenge on a new track, but F1 legend Montoya has identified Verstappen as his favourite ahead of the race.

“It will be interesting to see what Charles (Leclerc) does after the mistake last week if he keeps committing and everything works great or if he goes down a notch on performance just to be cautious and not make a mistake. If you do that, then you'll put yourself in a bad situation, because you take performance away," he told VegasInsider.

"I find it quite intriguing right now, because if you look at Max, he looked really comfortable the first couple of races, then he wasn't really there. If you look at the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia, for Sergio Perez to beat him, and no disrespect to him, it's surprising. I don't think anybody expected it. Especially with what we have seen before.

"But if you look at the Max Verstappen that showed up halfway through the sprint race in Imola and on Sunday, that guy, with that car, they are going to struggle to beat. If I was a betting person, I would probably put my money on Max.

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"I think Charles, with the crash, unless the team went to him and said 'just keep pushing, don't worry about it’. If they said that to him, he could still win the race. But my money would be on Max this week. Especially with the Miami weather.”

The weather could well be a factor for the weekend in Miami, with clear skies expected for practice on Friday and Saturday's qualifying session but the early forecasts outline the possibility for rain in Sunday's race.

Leclerc currently holds a 27-point lead over Verstappen at the top of the standings, with both drivers winning two races so far this term.

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