Verstappen set a succession of fastest laps on the soft tyres in the closing stages of FP3, with his quickest effort seeing him finish 0.214s clear of championship rival Hamilton. 

Hamilton’s fastest effort came on hards but both Mercedes drivers struggled with tyre warm-up and were unable to improve their times when they switched onto softs. 

Sergio Perez put his Red Bull third in the timesheets as he ended final practice over half a second down on his teammate and pacesetter Verstappen. 

It sets up a curious prospect heading into qualifying around the new high-speed Jeddah Corniche Circuit. 

While Verstappen was able to find improvements, they were only marginal compared to what would normally be expected. 

Hamilton, who had set the pace in both of Friday’s practice sessions, was left frustrated with the timing of his radio communications after having near-misses with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Nikita Mazepin’s Haas. 

Gasly had to run wide in order to avoid hitting Hamilton under braking at Turn 1, before Mazepin was forced to take evasive action to prevent what could have been a huge accident through the flat-out first sector. 

Yuki Tsunoda headed his AlphaTauri teammate Gasly in fourth, while Valtteri Bottas could only set a time good enough for sixth as he ended up nearly a second adrift in the second Mercedes. 

Charles Leclerc, who suffered a hefty shunt at the end of FP2, outpaced Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz by less than half a tenth to take seventh.

The Ferrari duo finished ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris, who completed the top-10 for Alpine and McLaren respectively. 

Qualifying for the inaugural Saudi Arabian GP gets underway at 8pm local time (5pm GMT).