Hamilton takes his 66th pole at Azerbaijan

Kimi Raikkonen was more than one second behind Hamilton, qualifying third ahead of his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, the championship leader.

Sebastian Vettel believes Lewis Hamilton should have also been given a penalty for his part in their clash behind the safety auto during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as he appears to ignore running into Hamilton after their initial collision.

Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes took pole with a time of 1:40.593. "The insane thing is the hunger for another pole", Hamilton said. "It's just that, I've been in this sport now for seven or eight years", Wolff said.

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.

Following a second safety vehicle to pick up debris on track, there was absolute carnage in the restart of the Azerbaijan GP.

Shortly before that, Hamilton and Vettel were involved in an incident that threatens to sour their good relations.

It was the team's second front row lockout of the year but Hamilton is not going into the grand prix expecting the two silver cars to disappear into the distance. The pair touched again, Vettel appearing to drive towards Hamilton in a deliberate move. However, just as he came in, the stewards announced that Vettel had been hit with a 10 second stop/go penalty for risky driving, pulling the race away from the Ferrari man just when it had been presented handed to him.

The entirety of the field made use of the safety auto to pit and switch to the soft tire that would likely take them to the end of the race, with Hamilton heading the field ahead of Vettel and Perez for the restart on Lap 17.

Earlier, in an eventful P3, Bottas was fastest.

It was an extraordinary performance from Stroll, the son of a billionaire, who faced heavy criticism earlier in the season.

The race started at 5 p.m. local time with track temperatures at 53 degrees Celsius (127 Fahrenheit).

Valtteri Bottas: "It's disappointing to lose pole as that was the target today". "Valtteri, I could see he was on a great lap as well". Hamilton was the only driver to lap under 1m42s in Q1 and was comfortably fastest with a single run in Q2 as well.

Force India's Sergio Perez jumped up to third, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen fourth ahead of Raikkonen.

At about the same time, the safety vehicle came out for the first time because Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso was stalled on the side of the track. We want to race wheel-to-wheel but not at the restart.

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

Fernando Alonso was the biggest casualty as he missed to Pascal Wehrlein by the narrowest of margins, while Romain Grosjean's late push for survival was hindered when he scraped the wall at Turn 15 and came off at Turn 2.

"That was one of the most exciting laps I've had all year", Hamilton said afterwards. It was all or nothing but the lap just got better and better throughout.

Esteban Ocon was the leading Force India in fifth with Felipe Massa, who narrowly avoided contact at Turn 8, was seventh.

Perez was seemingly forced out of the race as too was Raikkonen, whose right rear tire was completely shredded.

Hitting speeds of 370km/h down the boulevards, running flat out for 65% of the lap, but slowing to 80km/h for the corners, Baku is hard on engines and even harder on the brakes.

  • Julie Sanders