For the second race this season, Leclerc and Verstappen went head-to-head for the race win after they both jumped pole-sitter Sergio Perez under the early Safety Car period.

The pair battled hard with the lead exchanging countless times as they strategically tried to get DRS by braking early before the detection zone on the run to the final corner.

Verstappen eventually came out on top with Red Bull’s superior straight-line speed too great for Leclerc to defend.

Reflecting on his latest battle with Verstappen, Leclerc said: “Yeah, it was, but it wasn't enough today. But oh my God, I really enjoyed that race. Again, it's hard racing, but fair. And every race should be like this.

“So it was fun. I'm of course disappointed. I wanted to win today. We just missed. I mean, we had two very different configurations with Max and Checo and both the Ferraris.

“We were quite quick in the corners, but quite slow on the straights, because we put more downforce and so it was extremely difficult for me to cover Max in the straights, but it's like this, and he did a great job and it was a fun race.”

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Leclerc managed to hold onto the lead for a handful of laps before surrendering the position into Turn 1 on Lap 47.

The championship leader admitted that he had no choice but to be clever with the DRS otherwise Verstappen would have breezed past him sooner on the start-finish straight.

“I knew that the strength of Max and the Red Bull in general, this weekend was the straight-line speed,” Leclerc added. “So I basically knew that if I was leaving Max with a DRS behind for the main straight, I will basically be overtaken very easily.

“So, I just wanted that, DRS, so on the first lap, I braked very early and I got the DRS and manage to overtake back on the run to Turn 1. And then the second one, obviously Max knew that I was going to do that, so we both braked quite early, but I still managed to stay in front at the end. And the third time, it didn't work out for me.

“But yeah, I just tried to do the best I could to keep the position but it wasn't enough today.”

Straight after the race, Leclerc gave Verstappen a thumbs-up hand gesture from the cockpit.

The Monegasque said it was simply a sign of respect for how much both drivers were pushing at the end of the race.

“It’s always been there, especially when you finish a race like this,” Leclerc explained. “Honestly, we are on a street track, we have been pushing like I’ve rarely pushed before, to the absolute limit and we took risks at the end. So of course there is respect but I’m a bit disappointed.”