Max Verstappen set a new lap record to narrowly edge out Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for the fastest time in Practice Three for the Mexican GP.
Barely two tenths of a second covered the top three teams on an intriguing Saturday morning in Mexico City.
After Daniel Ricciardo was quickest on Friday, Red Bull continued their impressive pace at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with Verstappen topping the timesheet with a 1:17.113.
The Dutchman also locked up on his best lap to suggest there is even more pace to come from the RB13. “Red Bull are looking very strong,” Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta said.
Hamilton was second, just 0.075s back despite complaining of power problems, with his title rival Vettel a further four hundredths of a second back in third.
Valtteri Bottas and Ricciardo completed the top five and the tight fight between the leading three teams looks set to continue, with just two tenths of a second splitting them.
“I honestly couldn’t predict it. I think the only car that hasn’t really looked like it has been in the game is Raikkonen,” said Di Resta ahead of Qualifying, which gets underway at 7pm BST, with Sky F1’s build-up on air from 6pm.
However, there were more problems for Pierre Gasly as his Toro Rosso suffered yet another engine problem. The Frenchman, in only his third Grand Prix, has completed only 10 laps so far this weekend after being forced to stop on his opening lap of the session.
“He’s going to have a tough Qualifying session, he’s not had a fair run at it,” said Di Resta.
Home favourite Sergio Perez was just ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon in seventh and eighth, while the two Renaults completed the top 10 with Carlos Sainz ahead of Nico Hulkenberg on his second race for the team.
Brendon Hartley enjoyed his best session since returning to Formula 1 by posting the 11th fastest time in the other Toro Rosso, the Kiwi doing his chances of securing a 2018 drive with the team no harm.
Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were 16th and 19th respectively as McLaren focused on race simulations, with both drivers facing heavy grid penalties for engine component changes.
Timesheet Driver Team Time Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:17.113 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.075 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.117 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.170 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.248 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.404 Sergio Perez Force India +0.927 Esteban Ocon Force India +1.052 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1.095 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.267 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso +1.489 Felipe Massa Williams +1.577 Lance Stroll Williams +1.953 Kevin Magnussen Haas +2.092 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2.218 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda +2.452 Romain Grosjean Haas +2.473 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber +1.713 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda +2.917 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso No time set
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