Hamilton's latest pole position moves him 2nd all-time in F1

Lewis Hamilton takes pole position in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with team-mate Bottas in second and Vellet in fourth place on the grid.

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.

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".

Valtteri Bottas slotted his Mercedes AMG Petronas vehicle into second on the grid with Kimi Raikkonen outqualifying Sebastian Vettel at Scuderia Ferrari for the second time in three races.

"It's been hard with the tires to switch them on, it's been a struggle", Räikkönen said, who was more than a second behind Hamilton's pole time.

Vettel, who suffered a pre-qualifying engine change, will start one place behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on an all-Ferrari second row.

"My first run in Q3 was actually really good, but I was a bit greedy into the last corner, locked up and cost myself time".

Perez jumped up too, to sixth in 1m 42.111s as Ocon failed to better his 1m 42.186s, while Stroll just edged out Williams team mate Massa, with 1m 42.753s to 1m 42.798s.

And unsurprisingly it was the former who Hamilton enjoyed a lunch date with in the moments before his extraordinary lap.

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Friday pacesetter Max Verstappen was the first out when the track went green following his team-mate's crash and managed to get in two laps, but neither were good enough to secure him a higher grid position than fifth. As a team we got what we could today and tomorrow I think can be a different story, the race pace can be quite strong. "As I said other people were doing a better job and therefore their qualified in front of us".

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Bottas said it was "disappointing" to miss out on pole but "second place is not bad".

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

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 four-time champion was hauled back into the Ferrari garage with just half of the one-session completed, and he did not re-emerge.

However, beleaguered McLaren-Honda will be spared a back-row lockout by the luckless Jolyon Palmer, who was unable to take part in qualifying after an engine fire in his Renault in final practice.

Alonso will start in an embarrassing 16th and Vandoorne next to last in 19th.

  • Regina Holmes