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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

Hamilton says second on Baku grid a "monumental result"

Lewis Hamilton labelled his front row start for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a "monumental result", after what he said had been a "disaster" of a Formula 1 weekend.

The world champion had headed into qualifying firmly on the back foot, with his Mercedes team struggling to extract any pace from its car around the streets of Baku.

But a switch to a lower-downforce spec rear wing, and extra warm-up laps to better prepare tyres, allowed Hamilton to pull off a surprise as he grabbed second on the grid behind pole position man Charles Leclerc.

Reflecting on the outcome, as he even outpaced pre-event favourite Max Verstappen, Hamilton could not hide his delight.

"I think we definitely weren't expecting that," he said. "This is such a monumental result for us, because we've been struggling like you couldn't believe all weekend.

"You can see it, but we kept our composure, continued to have difficult discussions in the background, kept challenging one another and just never taking no for an answer.

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"We've moved around and made so many changes over these two days, which is chasing your tail. It's been so difficult, but I think the work overnight and then typically between the sessions was amazing.

"I'm really proud of everyone for keeping positive. And to be to be up there and so close to these guys is a great result."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton said that getting to the bottom of the tyre warm up issues, especially after facing similar difficulties in Monaco, was a huge headache.

"It's just crazy trying to get these tyres working and trying to find the envelope for this car," he said. "It is the biggest challenge I think we've had in a long time, to understand where the car is.

"She has not been happy all weekend. It's been a bit of a disaster, so for us to be up here, and even Valtteri [Bottas] getting into the top ten, that's a massive leap and that's really down to great, great teamwork."

While Mercedes has struggled with single-lap pace in Baku, its long runs on Friday did appear more competitive, which should bode well for the race.

Hamilton said he hoped the pattern from Friday was repeated on Sunday, but he was aware that there was no guarantee.

"Our race pace was a lot better than single lap pace," he said. "We were miles off in a single lap and a lot closer in race pace. We don't understand why, but I like to think, hopefully, we are in that same position, so we can take that fight to these guys [Red Bull and Ferrari] tomorrow."

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