Click here for full qualifying results for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton says the favourite tag is firmly stuck to Ferrari after the opening rounds of the 2018 Formula 1 world championship but after qualifying on the front row for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix he is confident Mercedes can fight.

The Mercedes driver produced his best qualifying result since the season opener in Australia by taking second place behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari at the Baku City Circuit.

Hamilton feels Mercedes' overnight set-up changes have enabled him to join the battle at the front again after a couple of frustrating races but feels Vettel and Ferrari remain “the number one team”.

“At all the races this season they’ve shown they’ve been very quick on the straights, and have a very strong and efficient DRS in particular. They’ve obviously made a big step forward this year and they are the number one team to beat at the moment,” Hamilton said. “Sebastian did a great job today so congratulations to him.

“The Ferrari has been so dominant in the last couple of races pace-wise so we knew they would be very quick here which they have been all weekend and also Red Bull look pretty promising.

“We were struggling yesterday and came into today and the team and engineers managed to do a great job to understand where we were and where we could progress forwards so a big thank you to them for all their hard work.

“Today was a much more reasonable car, there are still areas that we are lacking but it is a work in progress I would say and to be that close to the Ferraris is definitely a positive.”

Hamilton has already eyed a key strategy advantage Mercedes will hold going into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with both cars at the front, with Bottas qualifying directly behind him in third place, while Ferrari saw Vettel take pole and Kimi Raikkonen suffer a critical mistake on his final lap in Q3 which left him down in sixth place.

Last time out in China the reigning F1 world champions pulled off the undercut on pole-sitter Vettel once Bottas jumped into second place after the first corner which enabled the Finnish driver to take the lead before the safety car turned the race in Red Bull’s favour two weeks ago.

“To have both Valtteri and myself up here is a good boost for the team, to be right up there in the mix,” he said. “I am excited for the race, it is hard to overtake here, as it is anywhere around the world but we will give it everything we’ve got.”

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