(REUTERS) – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ended Mercedes’ domination of Spanish Grand Prix practice with the fastest lap in the final session before qualifying at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday (May 8).
The Dutch driver’s time of 1min 17.835sec was 0.235sec quicker than seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who will be chasing a record-extending 100th pole position later.
The Briton is eight points clear of Verstappen after three races.
Hamilton was fastest in Friday practice, after Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas set the pace in the morning, and with Verstappen only ninth but his pace on Saturday showed Red Bull remained very much in contention.
“Yesterday we were wondering where the Red Bull was, and today Max has just put in a lovely lap,” said 2009 world champion Jenson Button on Sky Sports television.
“But still there’s more time in the last sector for him. But the same for Lewis, neither of them got the last sector together.”
Verstappen has led every third practice session this season.
Ferrari’s return to form after a dismal 2020 season continued with Charles Leclerc third fastest and Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz fourth.
Bottas was only fifth while Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez was 10th on the time sheets.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, third in the championship, lapped sixth fastest, after venturing into the gravel, and Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri with Australian Daniel Ricciardo eighth for McLaren.