Hamilton: Bottas deserves to stay at Mercedes

Hamilton and Vettel may not have it all their own way this weekend though, as Max Verstappen topped both of Friday's practice sessions in Baku.

Hamilton banished memories of a dismal qualifying session in Baku past year, when he clipped the barrier and had to settle for 10th place on the starting grid, to grab pole with a time of 1:40.593 despite running wide at Turn 16.

Hamilton's victory in Canada saw the Mercedes driver join Ayrton Senna and Schumacher as the only drivers to win one event on six occasions.

In an interview published on the eve of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Hamilton, who trails championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 12 points, hinted that he may turn his back on motor racing and follow his long-term rival Nico Rosberg into retirement.

Vettel was beaten to third by team mate Kimi Raikkonen in an all-Ferrari second row.

'I don't even remember discussing that, ' says Hamilton.

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"I think the trickiest part was actually making them work, to get them hot enough", Raikkonen said after practice.

Further adding to that harmony and stoking Hamilton is Mercedes' fight with Ferrari.

"I looked through what I went through previous year 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.

Bottas held the advantage over Hamilton after the Briton made a mistake during his first run in the top-10 shootout. "Prioritising is important and choosing the right times". "I think we are still in the fight for pole but it is hard".

Those shunts meant Hamilton failed to set a time on the quicker supersoft tyres and he ended the day a second off the pace in 10th.

The session began with an ambient temperature of 28 degrees and the track at 53 degrees Celsius, with Frenchman Romain Grosjean quickly showing the power of his Ferrari engined Haas vehicle in the heat on the long straight. "Valtteri showed good pace and I think if I finished my lap I would have been up there as well".

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Behind, Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took sixth and seventh, with the Williams' of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa just behind.

"The stories I have heard are of a really cool place and so I am really looking forward to seeing it for myself".

It's also the second-longest track on the calendar and the first anti-clockwise race of the season.

Although his Ferrari team managed to resolve the failure in time for qualifying, Vettel was only fourth and 1.3 secs slower than Hamilton.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will start Sunday's race from the back of the field after incurring a series of grid penalties following changes to his Honda engine.

Enstone-based Renault suffered a tough session with Jolyon Palmer 18th.

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