Max Verstappen under pressure as Red Bull strongly backed over Ferrari and Charles Leclerc

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton

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Max Verstappen has been put under pressure to win the world championship by Formula 1 fans as the majority of Express Sport readers back the Dutchman to secure the crown. It comes after Ferrari and Charles Leclerc threw away their early-season advantage with a string of mechanical failures and strategy mistakes.

Verstappen was over 40 points behind Leclerc after the Australian Grand Prix but the tables have since turned on their head. The majority of the 5,000 Express Sport readers (72.3 per cent) said Verstappen was now their favourite to win the drivers’ title at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, just under 15 per cent backed Charles Leclerc to close the gap and take his first world championship. Sergio Perez was the third most popular option after a fighting display from the Mexican this season.

He secured pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and won the iconic Monaco Grand Prix just days after signing a new two-year deal. However, just 8.5 per cent said they backed Peres to outshine both Verstappen and Leclerc over the course of the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, F1 fans believe Red Bull is now certain to win the Constructors’ Championship after picking up an 80-point lead. A massive 84.4 per cent of respondents have backed the Milton Keynes squad to secure the one crown they missed out on last season.

Just over 15 per cent of readers feel Ferrari will take the crown despite many believing the Scuderia still has the fastest car on the grid. Leclerc has taken pole at the last four races when pure pace matters but has failed to convert any into wins.

It means opinions among fans have switched over the course of the season as Ferrari’s struggles continued. After Verstappen’s win in Jeddah, a massive 57 per cent of over 10,000 voters claimed Verstappen would not be able to overthrow Leclerc.

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At this stage of the campaign, the Dutchman only had the backing of 43 per cent of readers. Despite leading both championships, Red Bull boss Christian Horner is not getting carried away after admitting Ferrari have “dominated” when pace matters on Saturday.

He said: “I think pace-wise, Ferrari have been quick and certainly on Saturdays they have dominated, but we have capitalised on their misfortune… Obviously, the championships look healthy at the moment but we can see how quickly that can change.”

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