Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Bottas tops final Azerbaijan practice, Vettel suffers problems

Bottas tops final Azerbaijan practice, Vettel suffers problems

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his vehicle during the second free practice at the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, Friday, June 23, 2017.

Lewis Hamilton moved to second on the all-time list for Formula One pole positions when he used a brilliant late surge to beat Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Saturday.

But for Vettel, who heads Hamilton in the title race by 12 points heading into the eighth round of the season, his morning was plagued by a technical problem.

Then the red flag was brought out with three and a half minutes to go as Daniel Ricciardo parked his Red Bull on one of the straights after hitting the rear of the auto on the wall.

Sergio Perez will start sixth ahead of Force India teammate Esteban Ocon, while Lance Stroll impressed by outqualifying Felipe Massa for the first time at Williams. "Every now and then you call upon it and you don't actually extract it, but it was a ideal lap".

The quickest lap of Hamilton, which read 1min 40.593sec, came in the final seconds of the session following a red-flagged stoppage which turned the finale into a 3min 30sec showdown.

Hamilton was unhappy with his tyres throughout but Bottas enjoyed a more straightforward session, gradually improving his times over several laps on the supersoft tyres.

"It was one of the most exciting laps that I've had all year with a lot of pressure, obviously", Hamilton said. It was a lot of pressure.

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"My first run in Q3 was actually really good, but I was a bit greedy into the last corner, locked up and cost myself time. All weekend we've struggled to switch the auto on over a single lap, but it was an all or nothing moment so I just gave it everything I had".

"Coming down to the last corner I was just thinking "please be enough".

"The result is Ok but I'm not entirely happy", he said. Today we probably didn't get everything right but its part of the game. The Spaniard won't be too anxious though, as he will start from the pit lane anyway with a 40 place grid penalty. But I don't like excuses.

At the other end of the F1 spectrum, the misery continues for struggling McLaren as Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were eliminated from the first part of qualifying.

The Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz missed out on a place in the top ten shootout by finishing eleventh and twelfth, ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen.

Alonso was just 0.017s shy of beating Wehrlein's Sauber into Q2, but ended up 16th, ahead of Romain Grosjean's Haas and the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

19 cars started qualifying - Renault's Jolyon Palmer suffered an engine fire in the final free practice and had to sit it out.

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