Verstappen was the latest driver to be caught out at Turn 15 as he lost control of his Red Bull mid-way through the session and hit the barriers, with the impact causing damage to the front-right suspension on his car.

Having been unable to engage reverse gear, Verstappen was forced to get out of his car and miss the rest of the session, preventing the Dutchman from completing any qualifying simulation runs on the soft tyres.

After a brief red flag delay, Verstappen’s former Red Bull teammate Gasly soared to the top of the timesheets in the closing stages during the qualifying simulation runs, though several drivers were hampered by numerous yellow flags.

The Frenchman finished three-tenths clear of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez having produced a 1m42.251s on the soft tyre.

Mercedes’ Friday woes looked set to continue in FP3 but a late improvement from world champion Lewis Hamilton put him third, with the Briton aided by a massive tow from Perez’s Red Bull that was worth up to six-tenths in the final sector alone.

His teammate Valtteri Bottas did not benefit from a tow and was only 13th-fastest, nearly 1.5s down on Gasly’s benchmark.

The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were over half a second off the pace as they completed the top-five order.

Lando Norris took sixth for McLaren ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine, while Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top-10.

At the other end of the timesheets, Haas’ rookie pairing of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin once again ended up slowest of all in 19th and 20th, while George Russell stopped on track late on with a suspected hydraulics issue in his Williams.

Click here for full final practice results for the 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.