Red Bull lead the way in opening practice in Azerbaijan

Turn 8 is proving a little too narrow for some at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen secured the fastest time before crashing at the end of a chaotic second practice Friday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

It meant Hamilton only had one run to try and get pole, and the Briton didn't disappoint, posting a 1min 40.593sec lap to grab the 66th pole of his career - 0.434secs up on Bottas, and 1.1secs up on Kimi Raikkonen, who was third for Ferrari.

He will be joined in an all-Mercedes front row by Bottas, who was pipped at the death when Hamilton outpaced him in the final lap after the session had been paused by a red flag.

"It's what the best are made of-when the going is tough, they get over it".

Hamilton said: "I'm definitely still in the fight for pole, but it is definitely hard".

Hamilton is confident Mercedes' issues with inconsistency this year have been resolved.

"I looked through what I went through a year ago here and know where all the pitfalls and the issues I had then and don't plan on having the same issues this weekend", he said.

Hamilton, meanwhile, seemed to get stuck in traffic and with many cars out on track pushing hard it was hard for him to get any room to set a quick time.

"I could easily do another three-year contract if I wanted to and I reckon I could go on for another one after that", said Hamilton, whose €30 million-a-year-deal with Mercedes expires next season.

But with Raikkonen also more than half a second behind Bottas, Mercedes had a clear edge in single lap pace. "I think a lot of it is contributed by these tires being a lot worse in the sense that (they are) bigger, heavier, stiffer, harder and just don't work a lot of the time".

"Engine, engine", the frustrated Spaniard growled with McLaren set to continue as the only team to fail to score a championship point this season.

Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon with Verstappen in sixth. "I'm really enjoying the fight we have with Ferrari and admiring them for the strong competition".

Hamilton topped Q2 ahead of Bottas and Vettel.

And it was another terrible day for twice former champion Fernando Alonso, who will already start at the back of the grid tomorrow alongside teammate Stoffel Vandoorne after his McLaren team were penalised for using too many engine parts.

Pop star Timberlake is due to perform at the Circuit of the Americas on the evening of Saturday, October 21, and following a request by promoters of the Texas race, qualifying on that day will be moved back by two hours.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean agreed that this year's race should be more open.

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