Sebastian Vettel produces stunning lap to take pole for Azerbaijan GP

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel produced an excellent first flying lap in the final top 10 shoot-out to secure a third consecutive pole position for Sunday's Azerbaijan GP.

The Ferrari driver had struggled for pace in practice on Friday but after topping the times in final session in the morning, he would do so again in qualifying with his best time of 1m41.498s enough to beat Lewis Hamilton by just under two-tenths of a second.

Valtteri Bottas would take third in the other Mercedes as Red Bull's challenge once again diminished when their rivals could use the special engine modes to give a surge in performance down the straights.

Daniel Ricciardo would benefit from a slipstream on his final attempt to beat teammate Max Verstappen into fourth, with the Dutchman having to settle for fifth.

That slipstream would come from a recovering Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn, who had been on course to take pole from Vettel on his final lap after a blistering first two sectors, would make a mistake at the final corner ruining his lap and means he will start from sixth.

It was 2017 all over again in the midfield as Force India followed through on their strong practice pace to install themselves as the fourth best team.

At a circuit where the two came to blows last year, Esteban Ocon would beat teammate Sergio Perez by just 0.024s as the two 'pink panthers' claimed seventh and eighth respectively.

Often their biggest threat to those positions last season, Renault, who have been stronger this year, will be relieved to have had both cars round out the top 10 after a difficult weekend so far.

Carlos Sainz will start ninth, but a five-place penalty for a new gearbox will drop Nico Hulkenberg down to 14th.

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Lance Stroll almost produced a huge upset by beating Ricciardo to make into the top 10 in Q2 but was just a tenth shy in 11th. However, the Canadian will move up to 10th on the grid in what has been a good weekend so far.

His Williams teammate Sergey Sirotkin would put a crash in final practice earlier in the day behind him to be 12th fastest but will also move up one position.

Meanwhile, at McLaren, the feeling of disappointment on a Saturday returned with both drivers once again outside the top 10 for the fourth straight race.

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix - Qualifying

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will start 12th but Stoffel Vandoorne's poor pace continued with the Belgian knocked out in Q1 in 16th.

Charles Leclerc will be the last man to benefit from Hulkenberg's penalty in 13th and will have the German lining up alongside on the seventh row.

Kevin Magnussen was further down the order than expected in 15th on what was a difficult day for Haas as Romain Grosjean suffered a gearbox problem when trying to exit an escape road by engaging reverse.

Instead, the Frenchman was the first man out of the session and will start last.

Also in Q1, Pierre Gasly had a terrifying moment with Toro Rosso teammate Brendon Hartley, as he took avoiding action at around 180mph to just miss the slow-moving Kiwi as he made his way back to the pits with a puncture.

The result would be both junior Red Bull drivers going out in the first segment, with Gasly in 17th and Hartley 19th. 

The full qualifying order can be seen below:

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