Hamilton claims Baku pole

Posted June 26, 2017

Bottas had to settle for second place, ending up over 0.4s adrift of his Mercedes teammate despite finding some more time on his own final lap. "A lot of pressure". Third place is obviously not a disaster, I take it happily. If you can get them working 100% on one lap you can easily go a lot faster, but it was not the case today. I think third was probably the maximum. "The insane thing is the hunger for another pole", Hamilton said.

"I was so on it - Q1, Q2, then Q3 I made that one little mistake and I was so frustrated I had made that mistake and the red flag came out when I was up again on my next lap and I was thinking "there is no way I was going to be able to do it on the first lap".

The pressure was on after a mistake at Turn 16 on his first attempt left him second to Bottas and it was amplified when the session was suspended to allow marshals to clear Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull, which had hit the barriers at Turn 6 with 3:33 left on the clock.

"It's not really nice to be in fifth", Verstappen conceded. But it was disappointing for the 19-year-old Verstappen, considering he topped both of Friday's practice sessions. Valtteri Bottas had a bit of a nightmare, loitering in 19th place up until five minutes to go when he chose to put in a proper lap and secure himself a place in Q2.

"I wasn't quite comfortable with the tire temperature", said Bottas, who took pole at the Bahrain GP in April. It was all or nothing, but the lap just got better and better throughout.

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It was also a sweet moment for his mechanics, considering how hard Friday's second practice had been.

"That's how qualifying should be", Hamilton added. "As I said other people were doing a better job and therefore their qualified in front of us". "But the guys did excellent work".

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He will be joined by the McLarens due to power unit changes, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne receiving grid penalties of 40 and 35 places, respectively.

Romain Grosjean was 17th for Haas, struggling to find a balance, while Sauber's Marcus Ericsson was 18th.

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A change to supersofts saw Hamilton roar back up the timesheet and into first, but not to be outdone, Bottas regained top spot after his own tyre change.

The two Mercedes men were soon quickest again in Q2, clear confirmation that Hamilton and Mercedes had found an overnight transformation in their vehicle.

Earlier, in an eventful P3, Bottas was fastest.

The narrow confines of the picturesque Baku City Circuit have caused a number of problems for drivers here with Turn Eight - a strip of tarmac which measures just 7.8 metres in width - already the scene of two crashes and a number of near misses. This brought out the red flags with three-and-a-half minutes to go.

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