Arzerbaijan GP. Qualify-Hamilton hits back to claim pole position in Baku

The contest for pole position was building to an intriguing climax when a mistake by one of the drivers brought everything to a sudden halt. Daniel Ricciardo slid sideways out of turn six, clouting the barrier and damaging his Red Bull’s suspension. That brought out the red flags.

Prior to that the Mercedes pair had been in close contention for pole position. A 1’41.274 for Bottas put him narrowly ahead as a couple of mistakes for Hamilton at turns one and eight left him second.

The session resumed with just over three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Verstappen led the cars back on track, followed by the two Mercedes. The Ferrari pair held back, ensuring both drivers a traffic-free run.

Hamilton and Bottas were closely matched through the first sector. But around the sinuous middle part of the lap – where Hamilton’s qualifying effort came to an end 12 months earlier – he was sublime. With pinpoint precision he took four tenths of a second from his team mate at that part of the track alone.

He carried that advantage through to the end of the lap, and the result was his fifth pole position of the season. Bottas made it a Mercedes one-two, and improvements from the two Ferrari drivers put them on the second row ahead of Verstappen.

The Williams drivers only had time for one lap each, and neither was able to get ahead of the Force Indias. However Lance Stroll narrowly beat Felipe Massa for the first time this year.

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