Bottas fastest ahead of Raikkonen in final practice in Baku

Bottas fastest ahead of Raikkonen in final practice in Baku

"After the red flag, there was a lot of pressure on that final lap". It is probably difficult for the public to understand why we are struggling but these tyres are really hard and we are trying all these things to get some temperature in the tyre, weaving like insane. Valtteri was on a great lap as well, so when I came across the line and saw that I had pole, it was such a good feeling.

Hamilton e was the only driver to lap under 1m42s in Q1 and was comfortably fastest with a single run in Q2 as well. We were struggling yesterday but we made a lot of changes overnight.

The pack were poised ready to get back out on track, with Verstappen hoping to get two laps in when the clock restarted, and instructed by his team to defend his position if the Mercedes cars tried to get past him.

Valtteri Bottas: "Disappointing to be second, because [Lewis and I] were fighting for pole".

"Max, if you get challenged by a vehicle on the out-lap trying to get past you, switch into "mode 8", that'll be fine", Verstappen was told as Q3 got back underway.

"I think Lewis had a really good lap and I didn't", said Bottas. But what I'm most proud of today is the huge effort the team put in overnight to switch on the vehicle.

Fernando Alonso will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid following a series of changes to his Honda engine. "We deserved third and fourth today and that's what we got".

"I thought the hunger might drop off after I matched him (Senna)", Hamilton said.

Bottas, who set that top speed of 370 kph (230 mph) in last year's inaugural race, struggled on Turn 10 and barely managed to avoid any contact with the barriers. It was easy to slide or make a small mistake. Third place is obviously not a disaster, I take it happily.

"And it was not plain sailing at all, but I tell you, a lot of thinking, digging back to the factory, forward and whatsoever and, in the end, the improvements they did - the engineers - and all the mechanics did to the vehicle today is outstanding".

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"The result is Ok but I'm not entirely happy", he said. I don't have excuses, I could have done better. I was like, please be enough.

"I didn't have enough grip". In the long run we looked very competitive so it should be fine. So, let's see what happens. The mistakes of Hamilton and Vettel on their first laps cost both drivers. But my Q3 was not ideal.

With 20 minutes left, the red flag halted the session after Perez mangled both wheels on the right side of his auto snaking through into a tight Turn 8.

"Tomorrow can be a different story".

Max Verstappen: "The auto 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".

He added: "It's always really important to get that banker in on the first lap and I didn't do it".

Bottas led qualifying and set an even quicker time on his final lap, only for Hamilton to beat him by almost half a second.

Bottas led the pack in Q3 followed by Ricciardo and Hamilton.

All cars hit the track early, it being the second longest track on the calendar; finding space on the track was not as much of a concern as it is at shorter tracks like Monaco.

"That is what drives me".

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