Hamilton takes 66th career pole in Azerbaijan GP

Credit Getty Images  Red Bull Content Pool

Credit Getty Images Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen secured the fastest time before crashing at the end of a chaotic second practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Friday.

Although Vettel is adamant that he was brake-tested on the exit of Turn 15 as leader Hamilton prepared for the Baku race's second safety-car restart, the FIA's analysis of data from Hamilton's vehicle showed no proof of that.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the pole position in the qualifications for the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan.

At one point, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel were involved in an incident that threatened to sour their good relations.

"Ultimately what happened today was disrespectful".

"A 10-second penalty is not enough for driver behaviour like that", Hamilton said over the team radio. It's what you expect in go karts.

Vettel was unaware immediately after the race that his penalty was for swerving into Hamilton.

"It couldn't be clearer".

The episode left the British driver incensed.

"It is a misjudgement from him and some people don't like to own up to their own mistakes".

A clash between the pair under the safety auto acted as the first sign of a needle in their title fight, relations having remained fairly cordial to this point.

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"Today wasn't fair play".

"What I'm most proud of today is the huge effort the team put in overnight to switch on the vehicle". I'm sure he didn't do it on goal but for sure it's not the right move.

But he came through at the last minute, beating Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas' time by nearly half a second and clinching the 66th pole of his career.

Hamilton bolted early as the safety auto peeled in, dropping the surprised Vettel into the clutches of Perez behind. Verstappen backed out of his second timed lap as there was no point in risking the auto when pole was out of reach.

While the stewards were deliberating Vettel's punishment Hamilton was scuppered by a faulty headrest, and was ordered back into the pits for a replacement.

The tensions simmered when Vettel felt Hamilton had deliberately slowed down under safety vehicle conditions, causing slight contact between the two.

Hamilton then gave his version of events to the Mercedes pit wall.

Vettel thought Hamilton had slammed the brakes on intentionally - which is known as brake-testing - which Hamilton denied.

"I don't like excuses, so I think it was a good effort by the whole team to get the auto out in time without losing anything of the first part of qualifying", said Vettel. He was soon leading the race as Hamilton pitted for a headset re-fit and Vettel served his penalty.

"The team really did a fantastic job to set the vehicle up in the right way and Lewis with his lap here - I have never seen anything like it", said the 68-year-old Austrian. He's done something similar in China at the restart a couple of years ago so it's not the way to do it, I think. "It's just not the way to do it".

Around 25 minutes after the red flag was thrown, the race resumed behind the safety auto with Hamilton and Vettel leading the way.

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Not included were the 46 South Korean sailors killed by a North Korean torpedo in March of 2010. The negotiations broke down and Pyongyang boycotted the Games.

Hamilton was on Vettel's tail on the last lap, but could not overtake. Bottas meanwhile produced a brilliant drive to take his fifth podium finish of the season, having dropped to the back of the field after a first-lap bump with fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen.

Not surprisingly, Stroll cringed after his first gulp.

Bottas seemed on course for just his second career pole before Ricciardo's error caused a break. But the Australian was able to move forward during the race's jockeying for position, and had moved up to 6th by the time of the race's second safety vehicle stint.

When the critics were speculating over how he got a seat in Formula One, teenager Lance Stroll simply ignored them.

"They've seen today how a four-time champion behaves and I think, hopefully, that doesn't ripple into the younger categories".

Valtteri Bottas has identified an inability to find grip from his tyres to the same degree as team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the difference in pace between the Mercedes pair in qualifying.

After a hectic two sessions on Friday, drivers were again severely tested on the 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) street circuit, which is volatile and unpredictable due to a combination of long straights, blistering track temperatures and hard-braking corners.

Max Verstappen: "The vehicle felt very good during qualifying, I struggled a bit to get the tyres working in sector one but everything else felt like it was going in the right direction".

Fernando Alonso was another driver to benefit from the race of attrition, crossing the line ninth to take McLaren's first points of the season and end its point-less run.

But all the talk was about the Hamilton-Vettel incident with the Austrian GP next.

Vettel said the fight was "still respectful", adding: "I don't have a problem with him". "I do my talking on the track".

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"Firstly, he doesn't have my number", Hamilton said.

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