Inspector Lewis returns in Azerbaijan

Lewis Hamilton was almost a second slower than Charles Leclerc's pole lap in Azerbaijan.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton channelled his inner Sebastian Vettel once again after qualifying on Friday in Azerbaijan, after being spotted looking intently at Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.

Prior to his retirement, Vettel was often dubbed as ‘Inspector Seb’, with the four-time World Champion having more often than not been seen after a session checking out his rivals’ machinery in parc ferme.

Hamilton is the latest driver to have taken up Vettel’s incredibly popular trait, with the Mercedes driver likely wondering what Ferrari are doing to be so much faster than the Silver Arrows at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Leclerc claimed his third consecutive pole position at the Baku City Circuit on Friday, after beating reigning World Champion Max Verstappen by almost two-tenths of a second.

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Leclerc is seemingly the ‘King of Baku’, at least when it comes to qualifying.

The Monegasque has interestingly never won in Azerbaijan, with the last two races in the country having been won by Red Bull.

Leclerc will be eager to convert his pole position into victory on Sunday, with the 25-year-old needing a big result to truly kickstart what has been a miserable campaign for him so far.

The Ferrari driver was ultimately pleasantly “surprised” to have claimed pole position once again in Baku but was open in admitting that when it comes to race pace, they are “still behind the Red Bulls”.

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“I am surprised, we came into the weekend thinking it will be a great weekend if we are in front of Aston and Mercedes in qualifying and in the end we are on pole,” Leclerc said in parc ferme.

“We must not forget that our race car is still behind the Red Bulls so it will be difficult to keep the lead. The feeling was good since the start, so we are really, really happy.

READ: Max Verstappen incident reviewed by stewards after Azerbaijan GP qualifying

“It’s going to be challenging because we haven’t run the medium yet, so tomorrow in qualifying will be the first time.”

Hamilton was almost a second slower than Leclerc in Q3, with the 103-time polesitter having pushed his W14 to its absolute limit in order to qualify fifth.

To highlight Mercedes’ struggles in Azerbaijan, Hamilton was the sole Brackley-based car in Q3, with George Russell having been eliminated in Q2 after going 0.004s slower than his team-mate.