Max Verstappen sounded a warning to Lewis Hamilton by finishing ahead of his championship rival in final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by eight points in the standings, put together his best lap of the weekend so far to knock Hamilton off top spot at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
The Dutchman finished an impressive 0.235 seconds ahead of Hamilton – while Ferrari displayed signs of improvement with Charles Leclerc third, one spot ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) May 8, 2021
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was only fifth, more than half-a-second down on Verstappen, while British driver Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton will be bidding to claim the 100th pole position of his career later on Saturday, but Verstappen is threatening to spoil the Briton’s party.
Until his late lap, Verstappen had not troubled the top of the time charts in any of the previous sessions. However, his time on Saturday morning will see him head into qualifying holding an advantage over his rival.
Earlier in the one-hour session, Verstappen was unhappy with Hamilton’s driving in the final sector of the track.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 8, 2021
The Red Bull driver felt Hamilton had got in his way on the exit of the left-handed Turn 10 and was quickly on the radio to complain.
“Is it him again?” Verstappen asked. “[He is] unbelievable, this guy.”
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez finished only 10th, 0.771 sec off the pace.
There was late drama for Norris after he carried too much speed through Turn 10 and ran into the gravel. He managed to haul his McLaren back to the pits without sustaining any damage.
Kimi Raikkonen suffered a right-rear puncture on his way to finishing ninth for Alfa Romeo.