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Bottas fastest ahead of Raikkonen in final practice in Baku

Three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Finn Valtteri Bottas, both men more than a second adrift of Verstappen’s pace-setting lap.The final laps by the Ferrari drivers were enough to secure third and fourth place, albeit over one second off the pace, with Kimi Raikkonen leading Sebastian Vettel.”There was a lot of pressure with a minute left”.”Yeah, it’s way worse”, Hamilton said, via ESPN.’That was one of the most exciting laps that I’ve had all year, ‘ said a beaming Hamilton.Hamilton also recorded the 65th pole position of his career to match Senna in the all-time list.”It is already an wonderful thing to have matched Senna, but the insane thing is the hunger that I had for another pole”, Hamilton added.”I’m so pumped with that”. “But I was hungrier than ever today”.Hamilton now sits second in the drivers’ championship standings, but cut Vettel’s lead to 12 points after winning the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month and could overhaul him in Sunday’s race. Vettel’s only one away from five so if I get to five he could easily equal that, and then I’ve got to get six.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. This track is presenting a few problems for all the drivers with those close walls and tight turns – it promises a great race.But after his impressive pole at the Canadian GP two weeks ago, Hamilton gave another commanding performance.It was an improvement for Hamilton, after some difficulty on Friday. “But the guys did excellent work”. Kimi Raikkonen will start third after a hard session for Ferrari, with the Scuderia likely to be concerned by the margin of 1.1s to pole position. Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten but was 0.8s off teammate Ocon.And elsewhere Fernando Alonso got very cross with Daniel Ricciardo getting in his way during a hot lap. “Every corner can be a challenge”.”These tyres are just so hard”, he continued, “they’re too hard”.Already due to start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid following a series of engine penalties, he launched his headrest out of his McLaren as he ground to a halt.The luckless Alonso failed to make the cut to Q2 for the first time this season, and he was eliminated along with Romain Grosjean of Haas, Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Vandoorne.Hamilton’s state of mind – one that is always under question given his whirlwind lifestyle – is far removed from recent seasons and the travails of his toxic rivalry with Rosberg.