Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole with Sebastian Vettel languishing

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton admitted on Saturday that greed nearly cost him dearly before he clinched a landmark pole during qualifying for Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton banished memories of a dismal qualifying session in Baku previous year, when he clipped the barrier, to grab pole with a time of 1min 40.593sec despite running wide at Turn 16.

Kimi Raikkonen was more than one second behind Hamilton, qualifying third ahead of his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel. As a team we got what we could today and tomorrow I think can be a different story, the race pace can be quite strong.

Bottas, on soft tyres, was the early pacesetter, but a mistake on turn two led to Hamilton overtaking him as practice leader, before the Finn bounced back and finished top of the classification with a time of 1.42.742.

Having matched Ayrton Senna's tally of pole positions in Canada, this performance moved Hamilton clear into second place, just two poles behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 68.

Hamilton was unhappy with his tyres throughout but Bottas enjoyed a more straightforward session, gradually improving his times over several laps on the supersoft tyres.

"That was one of the most exciting laps that I've had all year", said Hamilton. It was a lot of pressure.


"Coming down to the last corner I was just thinking "please be enough".

"My first run in Q3 was actually really good, but I was a bit greedy into the last corner, locked up and cost myself time". Valtteri was just ahead of me in the circuit, I could see he was on a great lap as well, so I came across the line so happy because even if I got second it would've been awesome for one single lap, which I'm really proud of. "It is going to be a long, hard race but we are in the best position to start." concluded Hamilton, evidently euphoric after such an outcome. "This morning didn't help but it's not an excuse".

Nico Hulkenberg was 11th, while his Renault teammate Jolyon Palmer failed to set a representative time after stopping on track early on with a fire at the rear of the vehicle.

However, beleaguered McLaren-Honda will be spared a back-row lockout by the luckless Jolyon Palmer, who was unable to take part in qualifying after an engine fire in his Renault in final practice.

He will serve a mammoth 40-place grid drop, while his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne has been penalised by 30 places following a raft of new parts on his engine, too.

The Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz weren't fast enough to challenge the Williams and Force Indias, but comfortably quick enough to outpace Kevin Magnussen's Haas, Nico Hulkenberg's Renault, and Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber, which the Mercedes junior driver heroically dragged into the top 15.

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