F1 qualifying: Leclerc claims Singapore Grand Prix pole from Perez, championship leader Verstappen starts 8th

F1 enters the "flyaway" section of its schedule, with the final six rounds to be contested off the European continent, starting with the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Racing would have returned a week earlier, but the FIA canceled the Russian Grand Prix (scheduled for Sept. 25) after that country's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Reigning series champion Max Verstappen is riding high, entering with a five-race win streak, 116-point lead and a mathematical chance to clinch his second world drivers' championship but that may have to wait until at least Japan next week. While it’s a matter of “when” not “if” Verstappen will become double world champion, second through sixth in the drivers standings are only separated by 51 points.

Here is what you need to know to for the Singapore Grand Prix:

How to watch the Singapore Grand Prix

Fans in the United States can watch practices, qualifying and the race on TV via the ESPN family of networks or stream it via ESPN or F1TV Pro.

(All times ET)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Pre-race show: 6:30 - 7:55 a.m. (ESPN2)

Singapore Grand Prix: 7:55 - 10 a.m. (ESPN2)

Singapore Grand Prix starting grid

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Sergio Perez, Red Bull-RBPT

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, Alpine

Lando Norris, McLaren

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri-RBPT

Max Verstappen, Red Bull-RBPT

Kevin Magnussen, Haas-Ferrari

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri-RBPT

George Russell, Mercedes

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin-Mercedes

Mick Schumacher, Haas-Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin-Mercedes

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Esteban Ocon, Alpine-Renault

Alexander Albon, Williams-Mercedes

Nicholas Latifi, Williams-Mercedes

Top drivers and best bets for the Singapore Grand Prix

Verstappen has continued his imperious form from 2021 well into 2022 and absent a worthy challenger will clinch his second title barring complete catastrophe. Behind him, though, is an intriguing chase involving Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and the other two top teams in the sport:

F1 world drivers' championship Top 5

Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 335

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari - 219

Sergio Perez, Red Bull - 210

George Russell, Mercedes - 203

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari - 187

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 168

If not for myriad Ferrari tactical errors, and a few mistakes from Leclerc himself, the race for the title would be much tighter, leaving the other four scuffling for third place. Only Verstappen (11 wins), Leclerc (3), Perez and Sainz (1 apiece) have stood atop the podium this season.

As for history at Marina Bay, Sebastian Vettel has won five of the 12 races held there, Lewis Hamilton four and Fernando Alonso two. Retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg is the lone other winner on the streets of Singapore.

Best odds for the Singapore Grand Prix (per BetMGM)

Max Verstappen (-165)

Charles Leclerc (+350)

Lewis Hamilton (+800)

Carlos Sainz Jr. (+1000)

Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg likes Leclerc's odds for both pole (+200) and a podium finish (-190) and if the former happens, the latter should follow as Marina Bay is notoriously hard to overtake on track. While Verstappen has the race wins edge this year over Leclerc at 11-3, Leclerc has won the pole position battle 8-5.

Singapore Grand Prix weekend forecast

The weather in Singapore looks to be hot and muggy with precipitation possible, most likely on race day. Rain always throws a spanner in the works in terms of on-track action and strategy calls, so Sunday may not be as straightforward as we've seen this season.