Azerbaijan GP Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton leaves it late for Baku pole

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

Hamilton's 66th pole position lifted the 32-year-old into outright second place in the record books behind only seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher, on 68.

Sebastian Vettel says he is "not worried" by the gap to Formula One rivals Mercedes in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, despite finishing over a second off the pace. Vettel had missed out on practice time due to a hydraulics issue in FP3, which also required an engine change that put Ferrari on the back foot ahead of qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes F1 team came in first in the third free practice session of the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku.

"I wasn't quite comfortable with the tyre temperatures".

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Hamilton had dominated Q1 with a lap of 1m 41.983s which left Verstappen breathless on 1m 42.544s as Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vettel (with a new "old" engine in his Ferrari after his auto developed a water leak in FP3) and Bottas followed.

"The first lap I had the time but I made a mistake", he added.

"So that's a good thing and I'm grateful for that because that's what drives me so hopefully I continue to grow and get better as a driver and as a human being".

Hamilton and Romain Grosjean of Haas were two of several drivers who rode their luck on the challenging Baku circuit's narrow bends, while Jolyon Palmer's misfortune continued as his vehicle caught fire.

Bottas held the advantage over Hamilton after the Briton made a mistake during his first shot at pole in the top-10 shootout. "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".

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

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.

For Hamilton's chief title protagonist Vettel it has been a hard weekend. If you can get them working 100% on one lap you can easily go a lot faster, but it was not the case today.

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

The Force Indias of Sergio PĂ©rez and Esteban Ocon were sixth and seventh respectively, whilst rookie Lance Stroll outqualified his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa to bag eighth spot. I don't have excuses, I could have done better.

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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.

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