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Formula 1

Hamilton takes pole position for Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton trails Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship.
Lewis Hamilton trails Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship. Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili

Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pole position after eclipsing Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with a spectacular final qualifying lap on Saturday.

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The three-time world champion starts ahead of Bottas with Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, the championship leader, occupying the second row of the grid.

Hamilton claimed the 66th pole of his career, pulling clear of Brazilian great Ayrton Senna and leaving the Briton two shy of Michael Schumacher's record of 68.

His fastest lap of 1 minute 40.593 seconds came in the final seconds of the session.

The 32-year-old bounced back from a frustrating practice outing on Friday to clinch his fifth pole in eight races this season as Mercedes locked out the front row.

"That was one of the most exciting laps I have had all year," said Hamilton. "There was a lot of pressure as we've been struggling with getting temperature into the tyres. I was just praying it was enough.

"I am so pumped. But that's how qualifying should be. It is going to be a long hard race and pole is the best place to start."

Bottas, who had been fastest, admitted he was disappointed. "The lap, in the end, wasn't quite perfect. I was struggling and Lewis then did his lap. It's disappointing. But second place is not bad."

Hamilton trails Vettel by 12 points in the championship going into the eighth of the season’s 20 races.

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