Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2018: Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton to pole position
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has laid down the title gauntlet to Lewis Hamilton after beating his rival to pole position in Azerbaijan.
Vettel, nine points clear of Hamilton in the standings, finished 0.179 seconds clear of the Mercedes driver to secure his third pole in as many races.
Hamilton arrived in Baku without a victory from the opening three rubbers, but against the backdrop of Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that the Brit is no longer the racer he once was, he will be relieved to start alongside Vettel on the front row and out-qualify his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the first time since the season-opening race in Australia. Bottas lines up in third.
Hamilton, 33, has been sluggish in recent grands prix, leading Formula One’s former overlord Ecclestone to suggest the sport’s defending champion was “fed up” and “not the racer he was”.
But the Mercedes driver, who has not tasted victory since October’s United States Grand Prix, delivered a response of sorts to qualify alongside Vettel.