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Lewis Hamilton posts flawless lap to claim pole in Azerbaijan

Lewis Hamilton posts flawless lap to claim pole in Azerbaijan

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center, celebrates his pole position with second placed Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland, right and third placed Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland following the qualification at the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, Saturday, June 24, 2017.

Hamilton now sits second in the drivers' championship standings, but cut Vettel's lead to 12 points after winning the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month and could overhaul him in Sunday's race.

The 32-year-old bounced back from a frustrating practice outing on Friday to clinch his fifth pole in eight races this season as Mercedes locked out the front row.

"That is not something I am thinking about at the moment - rather the contrary, as I am getting my head around how to beat them", Hamilton told reporters in Baku when asked if he would consider driving for Ferrari at some stage during his illustrious career.

"Disappointing. I was going for the pole, but the lap at the end just wasn't quite that flawless", Bottas admitted.

He added: "That final pole victor lap was one of the most exciting and satisfying I've had all year. It's disappointing, but second place is not bad".

For Vettel, who holds a 12-point lead over Hamilton in the title race, it has been a hard weekend.

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.

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They were soon split by Massa, Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and eventually Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari man's vehicle needed work, though the German was quickly forced to retreat to the garage once again.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen completed the top five, bumped down by the Ferraris late on, but still only 0.038secs off Vettel.

With the main straight in Baku being 1.4 miles long, the Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams were expected to lock out the top 10, leaving teams such as Toro Rosso and Haas an uphill fight to proceed from Q2.

Lots of mistakes as well, with Carlos Sainz overrunning a corner.

Already facing a combined grid drop of 75-places, McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne's struggles continued as they were both eliminated in Q1, finishing 16th and 19th respectively as they failed to make up for the power deficit of the Honda engine.

Canadian teenager Lance Stroll of Montreal qualified eighth.

Bottas topped the first runs in Q3 ahead of Hamilton, who made an error in the final sector, with Verstappen third, but the Briton saved his best for last to deny the Finn.


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