July 26, 2017

Hamilton's Baku pole is his 66th, passing Senna

26 June 2017, 01:36 | Simon Arnold

Hamilton's Baku pole is his 66th, passing Senna

Turn 8 is proving a little too narrow for some at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

That incident turned the session into a one flying lap dash once the track was cleared, and Hamilton pulled out a stunning effort on his final run to claim pole by nearly half a second from Bottas.

Meanwhile, Championship leader Sebastian Vettel had to settle for fourth place on the grid - 0.148secs off Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari, but alarmingly 1.248secs off pole.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his vehicle during the second free practice at the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, Friday, June 23, 2017.

Then the red flag was brought out with three and a half minutes to go as Daniel Ricciardo parked his Red Bull on one of the straights after hitting the rear of the auto on the wall. "Whilst we got that other run in Q3 after the red flag, it was down to one lap and I just didn't feel that I managed to get the tyres warm enough and to work and bite as well".

"But it's second place - not bad".

And unsurprisingly it was the former who Hamilton enjoyed a dinner date with in the Mercedes hospitality suite in the moments before qualifying.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Brit though, as his first attempt at pole before the session-stopping accident of Daniel Ricciardo did not go exactly to plan.

The British driver received a vote of confidence from Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul despite crashing during Friday's session, but finished at the bottom of the standings here after completing just four laps.

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"Tomorrow is going to be a long hard race, but we are in the best position to start it". "This morning, we didn't know if those changes were going to be right or not".

Hamilton topped Q2 ahead of Bottas and Vettel.

On the Baku City Circuit there are several big braking points, but the long home straight expels all temperature gained, making it very easy to lock a car's brakes and end up with a flat-spotted tire.

Accepting responsibility for his qualifying result, Vettel said, "In the end, I was alone and had no tow in the last sector". I don't have excuses, I could have done better.

Esteban Ocon was the leading Force India in fifth with Felipe Massa, who narrowly avoided contact at Turn 8, was seventh.

The pack were poised ready to get back out on track, with Verstappen hoping to get two laps in when the clock restarted, and instructed by his team to defend his position if the Mercedes cars tried to get past him.

Jolyon Palmer was not able to post a time and missed qualifying after his Renault caught fire in final practice.

Meanwhile, already knowing they would be starting at the back of the field with 40 and 35-place grid penalties respectively for a myriad of engine and gearbox penalties, McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne dropped out in Q1.

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