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F1: What we learned from qualifying at the Singapore GP

Championship leader Max Verstappen will start the Singapore Grand Prix down in eighth place on the grid after he was forced to abandon his qualifying bid late on, leaving Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on pole.

Verstappen's chances of winning the Formula 1 world title for a second year in a row on Sunday now look highly unlikely as the Red Bull driver needs to win the race at Marina Bay and hope other drivers still in with a mathematical chance of overall title glory struggle.

Late drama costs Verstappen

WhatSingapore Grand Prix
WhereMarina Bay, Singapore
When13:00, Sunday 2nd October 2022
How to watchSky Sports Formula One
Odds

Max Verstappen 2/1, Charles Leclerc 5/4, Carlos Sainz 16/1, Lewis Hamilton 10/3, George Russell 66/1

Verstappen looked to have the pace to secure pole but was told to urgently pit before finishing his final lap in Q3 and it soon emerged after qualifying that the Dutchman was running short of fuel.

If there wasn't enough in the car for a sample afterwards, he could have been disqualified so the reigning world champion instead had to settle for eighth, a situation he admitted was "incredibly frustrating" after Saturday's action.

Leclerc benefited from Verstappen's misfortune to take first place on the grid and he was 0.222 seconds faster than the other Red Bull, with Sergio Perez sitting in second for Sunday's race.

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Hamilton takes third place

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is in third, ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, while Fernando Alonso's Alpine will start the race in fifth place, just ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris.

All drivers unusually ran throughout qualifying without pitting as Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly secured seventh place on the grid, just in front of Verstappen, while Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was ninth-fastest and the Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsunoda made up the top 10.

Yet another pole for Leclerc

Leclerc secured his ninth pole in 17 races this season, an outcome he described as "really, really special" and he will now be aiming to improve his pole-to-race-win ratio and finish first for just the fourth time this year to ensure Verstappen is made to wait for the title.

Verstappen is 116 points clear of Leclerc at the top of the drivers' standings so a second world crown in succession will come at some point in the near future but, barring an amazing turnaround in the race, it will not be on Sunday.

There are various permutations that must happen for Verstappen to be crowned champion at what would be the earliest stage of the season for 20 years. If he wins the race with a fastest lap to pick up 26 points and Leclerc finishes eighth or lower and Perez finishes fourth or lower, that would be enough.

Also, if he comes out on top without a fastest lap to gain another 25 points and Leclerc finishes ninth or lower and Perez finishes fourth or lower without a fastest lap or fifth with a fastest lap then that would also see Verstappen officially be named champion again.

Title very unlikely on Sunday

Verstappen has proved before this season he can win races when starting lower down the grid and it would not be too much of a shock to see him prevail from eighth place on Sunday, but combining that with poor afternoons for both Leclerc and Perez seems fanciful.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was third fastest, just missing out in Q3 after initially displaying a very fast pace in Q1 and Q2. The seven-time world champion has had an overall disappointing year but things have improved in the second half of the campaign and the Briton revealed he was "pushing so hard" to try and secure pole but he had to settle for third instead.

Engine issues hurt Russell

Hamilton's Mercedes' team-mate George Russell could only manage 11th place after an apparent engine problem restricted his chances of recording a faster time.

Alex Albon qualified 19th on his return to the grid after recovering from an appendectomy three weeks ago when he spent nearly 24 hours in intensive care after stopping breathing.

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