With Red Bull topping the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions, Hamilton believes this weekend's race could be one of the most competitive of the season. We've clearly still got lots of work to do ahead of qualifying, but Valtteri's time in FP2 looked promising, so there is obviously pace in the auto, which is encouraging.
One suggestion is that although Hamilton has a contract for 2018, he might decide to "do a Rosberg" and make room at Mercedes for a younger driver if he wins the title.
"To be first with not an ideal lap - I went out of the garage with yellow flags and the virtual safety vehicle, so you can not warm up the tyres as you want to - so still to be up there is very positive".
"It's what the best are made of－when the going is tough, they get over it". "That was one of the most exciting laps I've had all year". I saw Valtteri just ahead and I knew he was doing a good lap and I remember coming down to the last corner, I was thinking, "please be enough".
The pole is Hamilton's second in succession and puts him second on the all-time Formula One list behind Michael Schumacher on 68.
"You're going so close to the walls and it's sometimes even like touching them". "Tomorrow will be a long hard race but we're in the best position to start".
The F1 circus rolls in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, for the second time this weekend, with fans hoping that the limitations of the circuit won't undermine the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
"I think you need to get into a rhythm around Baku, relax and gain confidence", he told Sky Sports.
"These tyres don't seem to be working well at all here", Hamilton said, having set only the 10th fastest time in Friday's second practice session.
The session began with an ambient temperature of 28 degrees and the track at 53 degrees Celsius, with Frenchman Romain Grosjean quickly showing the power of his Ferrari engined Haas vehicle in the heat on the long straight.
"That is what drives me". Part of me doesn't like it right now but the reality is that I do like street circuits for these reasons, it shows when you are on the limit and you pay the price when you are over that limit. "It would take me the rest of my life".
Alonso, who is already due to start Sunday's race from the back of the grid following a series of engine penalties, launched his headrest out of his McLaren as he ground to a halt.
Lewis Hamilton, trailing Vettel by 12 points, preferred not to take risks ahead of the third practice and qualifying on Saturday. The session was marred by a few accidents, the main one caused by Jolyon Palmer who drove his Renault into a wall.