The Dutchman, who had finished well down the order in the Friday practice timesheets, raised eyebrows he stormed to the top of the FP3 order during the qualifying simulations runs on Soft tyres, becoming the first driver to dip into the 1m17s so far this weekend.

Verstappen’s 1m17.835s saw him finish 0.235s clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who had set the benchmark time before the Red Bull driver unleashed blistering pace on his only Soft-shod effort of FP3.

Ferrari sat a strong third and fourth with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both outpacing Valtteri Bottas, who struggled to get the best out of his Soft tyres on his way to P5.

Lando Norris survived a trip through the gravel at Turn 10 to put his McLaren sixth in the timesheets, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and new teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

An impressive lap from Kimi Raikkonen saw him take ninth in his Alfa Romeo before he ended the session with a puncture after running over some debris from another car.

Meanwhile, Sergio Perez failed to produce a representative lap for the second day running as he completed the top 10, nearly eight-tenths down on his Red Bull teammate’s benchmark.

Another tight session saw the top 13 runners all split by less than a second, suggesting that the fight to make it into Q3 will be particularly close.

Qualifying for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix takes place at 1500 local time (1400 hours BST).

Click here for full Spanish Grand Prix final practice results.

 

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