Vettel makes it a hat-trick by claiming pole in Azerbaijan

Despite Lewis Hamilton's late charge, Sebastian Vettel clocked the fastest lap in qualifying ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel in action in Baku   -  Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will start at the front of the grid for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after claiming his third pole position of the season in Baku.

The Ferrari driver clocked a best lap of one minute and 41.498 seconds, enough to remain at the top of the timesheets despite a late push from the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton (+0.179secs).

Vettel, nine points clear at the top of the drivers' standings, will have nearest rival and reigning world champion Hamilton for company on the front row, setting up the possibility of a mouthwatering showdown on Sunday.

Hamilton finished comfortably ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while Daniel Ricciardo, who won the inaugural race at the Baku City Circuit last year, claimed fourth, an impressive result considering he only made it through to Q3 by a tenth of a second.

Ricciardo's Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen were fifth and sixth respectively, though the Ferrari driver will look back with regret at a costly error in the closing stages of the session.

Raikkonen appeared in with a genuine chance of snatching pole until he made a mistake at Turn 15, leading to him losing pace towards the end of his flying lap.

Both Force India cars made it into the final qualifying session for the first time in the 2018 campaign, with Esteban Ocon seventh ahead of colleague Sergio Perez.

Having qualified for the previous six successive races in seventh place, Nico Hulkenberg could only finish ninth. However, the German will start the race further back on the grid after accepting a five-place penalty handed out for changing his gearbox after final practice.

Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 as McLaren failed to get a car through to Q3. Fernando Alonso ended up in 13th, three places ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.



1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:41.498
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.179s
3 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.339s
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0.413s
5 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) + 0.496s
6 Kimi Raikkönen (Ferrari) +0.992s
7 Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1.025s
8 Sergio Perez (Force India) +1.049s
9 Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1.568s
10 Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1.853s

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