Lewis Hamilton wants to give Sebastian Vettel 'hard time' in Azerbaijan GP
Title rivals line up on front row with Vettel on pole in Baku; Mercedes regain form with Hamilton just a tenth off championship leader; Lights out 1.10pm Sunday
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 29/04/18 11:14am
Lewis Hamilton hopes he can give Sebastian Vettel "a hard time" in Sunday's Azerbaijan GP as the two title rivals prepare to line up together on the front row of the grid for the first time this season.
Vettel claimed his third consecutive pole position in F1 2018 with a blistering time of 1:41.498, but Hamilton was just a tenth slower as the reigning world champion and Mercedes regained some form in Baku.
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Hamilton is nine points behind Vettel in the early championship standings and he and Mercedes are yet to win this season, but the Briton was encouraged by the team's overnight improvements and hopes to give the Ferrari driver a stern test, at the circuit where their rivalry exploded last season.
"We are in the mix. I will try to give Sebastian a hard time tomorrow," Hamilton said.
"We did the best job we could. It was very, very close. I lost a bit in the last sector and Sebastian did a great job.
When's the Azerbaijan GP on Sky?
Qualifying underway at 2pm, and race start at 1.10am on Sunday - live on Sky Sports F1
"[Ferrari] were quickest all weekend and they obviously have a phenomenal car this year. But I'm really happy with what the team did to get us from where we were yesterday to today.
"It's a work in progress and to be that close to the Ferraris is definitely a positive.
"To have both me and Valtteri up there I think is a good boost for the team to be in the mix.
"It's hard to overtake but we will give it everything we've got."
Mercedes were on average a second slower on the long-run simulations of Ferrari and Red Bull on Friday and Hamilton conceded he was unsure whether the one-lap improvements would also translate to improved race performance.
"Ferrari just seem to be better all round and on the long runs yesterday they were quite a bit ahead of us," he told Sky F1.
"We shall see. I haven't done a long run with the changes we have made today but I'm hoping we will be in a better position tomorrow."
Vettel expects intense race
Vettel had been well off the pace in Friday's running but after changing his car's set-up overnight was back on song on Saturday as he topped final practice before storming to the 53rd pole position of his career.
Last year's Azerbaijan GP produced the most overtakes of the 2017 season and he is expecting an examination from his rivals behind.
"It will be an intense race. Anything can happen here and Safety Cars are likely," Vettel said.
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"The good point is that our car was really good this afternoon so it should be in a good place tomorrow.
"Yesterday I struggled a bit with confidence and trust in the car and rhythm but today, when it clicks, it just keeps coming."
Vettel and Ferrari were caught out by Mercedes in China as he lost the lead through the first pit stops as the Silver Arrows pitted Bottas early and performed the undercut.
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The undercut is also a strong possibility in Baku but Vettel is confident his team have learnt from what happened two weeks ago.
"What happened in China we didn't appreciate or like," Vettel added.
"We have a good team looking after this sort of stuff and we will see how the start and first stint goes.
"We are aware that here is a long lap and the undercut power is there. What there was to learn from China we learnt and we should be fine tomorrow."
How to follow the Azerbaijan GP on Sky F1
|Sunday April 29||Sky F1 digital live blog||11.30am: Pit Lane LIVE!||12.30pm: On the Grid LIVE!||1.10pm: The Azerbaijan GP LIVE!|
Who will come out on top in round four of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull's battle for supremacy in F1 2018? Watch the Azerbaijan GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.