F1’s current championship leader finished 0.072 seconds clear of Verstappen’s Red Bull to ensure he ended all three practice sessions with the quickest time, though Leclerc’s fastest lap was a tenth slower than his outright benchmark from FP2. 

Following their dire start to the season, Mercedes finally appear to be back in the hunt after another competitive showing at Barcelona, with George Russell third in the upgraded W13 and just 0.148s behind Leclerc. 

Teammate Lewis Hamilton was a further 0.082s back in fourth, giving Mercedes hope of securing their best result on a Saturday so far this year. 

Carlos Sainz was 0.357s adrift of his teammate in the second Ferrari to round out the top five, a tenth clear of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez

Seventh place went the way of McLaren’s Lando Norris, ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon as seven different teams featured inside the top 10.

There was drama for Mick Schumacher, who suffered an early rear-brake failure that sidelined him for the rest of the session. Haas are hopeful the German will be able to take part in qualifying following a precautionary gearbox change. 

Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly failed to complete a single lap after encountering a technical issue on his AlphaTauri. 

Qualifying for the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix takes place at 4pm local time (3pm BST).