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Hamilton underlines Mercedes vow after qualifying struggle

Lewis Hamilton was almost a second slower than pole-winner Charles Leclerc in Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton has insisted the entire Mercedes team "exist to win" despite finding positives from a difficult qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The seven-time World Champion will start Sunday's race from fifth having been outpaced by both Red Bulls and the resurgent Ferraris, which earned a first pole position of the season courtesy of Charles Leclerc. But whilst Hamilton remained almost a second off the pace from Leclerc's effort, solace could be taken from the fact he maintained position over Aston Martin duo Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll on a day that saw teammate George Russell fail to make Q3. "We are trying as hard as we can, giving it absolutely everything out there," said Hamilton. "Timing and getting into a rhythm and really pulling out everything is not easy on this track. In Q2, I struggled, I had more pace, I just didn't get that last lap. "My Q3 run one was a really sweet lap, just unfortunately... I just matched it basically at the end but needed just a little more time to nip [ahead] of the Ferrari."

Not the position we want

The next on-track session will be the second qualifying of the weekend, with a shortened three-stage shootout used to determine the grid for the 100km sprint. On his prospects for Saturday's proceedings, Hamilton explained: "We can't make any changes to the car so this is the pace that we have. "So I might be able to eke a little more out if we can do some studying tonight, but this is a good position to start from on Sunday. Naturally, this is not the position we want as a team - we exist to win, everyone has that winning mindset and everyone is working as hard as we can. "We haven't had an upgrade this weekend but we are working towards one that hopefully will put us closer to the battle ahead."

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