Hamilton secures Baku pole

Hamilton secures Baku pole

Valtteri Bottas slotted his Mercedes AMG Petronas auto into second on the grid with Kimi Raikkonen outqualifying Sebastian Vettel at Scuderia Ferrari for the second time in three races.

Just three and a half minutes remained when the session resumed, with tire temperature meaning it would be hard for most drivers to improve significantly with one timed lap.

Despite improving his benchmark, Hamilton crossed almost 0.5s quicker with a remarkable lap, leaving Bottas to concede his teammate did the better job of getting his tyres up to temperature.

Bottas led qualifying and then set an even quicker time on his final lap - only for Hamilton to beat him by almost half a second.

"I thought the hunger might drop off after I matched him (Senna)", Hamilton said. "Neat and tidy, but he was just carrying good speed".

The pressure was on after a mistake at Turn 16 on his first attempt left him second to Bottas and it was amplified when the session was suspended to allow marshals to clear Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull, which had hit the barriers at Turn 6 with 3:33 left on the clock.

Lewis Hamilton banished his Baku qualifying demons of 12 months ago to claim a resounding pole for the Azerbaijan GP, as title leader Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth. "The first lap I easily had the time, I just made a mistake in the last corner, so there was a lot of pressure".

The British driver is now just two behind Michael Schumacher's overall record of 68 poles in Formula One. "For tomorrow we, as a team, definitively have a great starting position and we're going to have a good fight and try to get another one-two for the team".

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"We would have loved to have had more laps this morning".

This year sees our second visit to the Baku City Circuit, and it's a track that divides opinions.

But a superb last lap beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.434 seconds.

Accepting responsibility for his qualifying result, Vettel said, "In the end, I was alone and had no tow in the last sector".

"I'm no fan of excuses, I could have done a bit better but probably P3 was the maximum". His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was in third.

Both McLarens were eliminated in Q1 but will start from the back of the grid due to engine penalties, while Jolyon Palmer is likely to start from the pit lane after an engine fire in FP3 scuppered his hopes of taking part in qualifying. Williams rookie Lance Stroll out-qualified team mate Felipe Massa for eighth, with the unfortunate Ricciardo completing the top ten.

Fernando Alonso, already hit with a 40-point grid penalty, failed to advance past Q1 for the first time this season, while Jolyon Palmer did not take part in qualifying after a fire in his vehicle during Saturday morning's practice.

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