losangelesnewstoday.com June 20, 2018

Hamilton snatches Baku pole from Bottas

26 June 2017, 01:36 | Stacy Ballard

The quickest lap of Hamilton, which read 1min 40.593sec, came in the final seconds of the session following a red-flagged stoppage which turned the finale into a 3min 30sec showdown.

The Mercedes driver's pole position in Baku was the 66th of his career - only two short of Michael Schumacher's all-time record - but he said he was "even more excited than I have been for a long time".

Two weeks after cutting Vettel's title lead to 12 points, Hamilton is also in ideal position to move even closer in Sunday's race at 2pm BST after his Ferrari rival struggled to fourth. The 26-year-old Englishman crashed on Friday before he was ruled out of qualifying after his Renault engine caught on fire during Saturday morning's practice session.

In a terrific last gasp lap in Q3, Lewis Hamilton set a scorching time to take pole position at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, beating his team mate, Valtteri Bottas, by 0.434 seconds and pushing the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel in to third and fourth on the grid. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second.

"I think it's one of the tracks where you need to have the vehicle in the window and tyres in the window, and then, if you feel confident, you extract a lot of lap time as well".

And elsewhere Fernando Alonso got very cross with Daniel Ricciardo getting in his way during a hot lap.

"Qualifying was going so well", said Hamilton, who had been fastest in the first and second parts of qualifying. "I am just thankful I was able to pull a lap together", continued the Brit.

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"But it's second place - not bad". "As I said other people were doing a better job and therefore their qualified in front of us".

This has been a problem all weekend on the Baku street circuit because drivers have been struggling to get their tyres up to the right operating temperature owing to the low-grip surface and hardness of the tyres.

"The result is okay, but obviously I am not entirely happy". But I don't like excuses.

Behind, Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took sixth and seventh, with the Williams' of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa just behind.

Both McLarens will start from the rear of the field on Sunday thanks to multiple grid penalties for use of additional Honda power unit elements, while Sainz will lose three grid spots for causing a collision last time out in Canada.

Toro Rosso failed to get either auto into the top ten for a second race running, while Renault and McLaren also endured a miserable session.

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 auto during Saturday morning's practice.

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