Mercedes were kept off the top of the timesheet for the second successive session at the Mexican GP as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to the fastest final practice time.
With Mercedes not enjoying their usual timesheet advantage, at least not yet, championship leader Nico Rosberg was only fourth – nearly four tenths down on team-mate Hamilton.
But the picture at the head of the order was distorted by a number of the leading runners, including the Mercedes pair, hitting traffic on their qualifying simulations on the supersoft tyre.
Verstappen was one of the few drivers to pick a clean route through and topped the session on 1:19.137. Hamilton was just under a tenth back, with Daniel Ricciardo third in the other Red Bull.
Although Rosberg did not complete a clean lap, the German has been consistently three-four tenths adrift of Hamilton so far around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
P2 pacesetter Sebastian Vettel dropped to sixth in final practice, behind Valtteri Bottas in a Williams car showing much-improved form so far in Mexico.
Kimi Raikkonen, who was struggling for grip on the soft tyre, was seventh ahead of Felipe Massa (Williams) and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who was once more ahead of Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez.
The performance of Red Bull proved to be final practice’s biggest story given Mercedes’ challengers of recent months had appeared off the leading pace on Friday.
As has proved the case so far, Hamilton had proved the quickest driver on the harder compounds – the medium and the soft – but Ricciardo and Verstappen were just 0.2s back on the latter.
Indeed, the top three teams were covered by just three tenths on the soft tyre.
McLaren again finished outside the top 10 on a Mexican circuit that does not suit their Honda-powered car as well as some, although did spend the first half of the session focusing on heavy-fuel long runs.
Mexican GP Practice Three timesheet
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:19.137
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, + 0.094
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 0.233
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 0.481
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, + 0.674
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 0.800
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 0.857
8. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 0.860
9. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 1.118
10. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, + 1.188
11. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 1.335
12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, + 1.449
13, Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 1.463
14. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, + 1.882
15. Jenson Button, McLaren, + 2.015
16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, + 2.108
17. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, + 2.201
18. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, + 2.208
19. Romain Grosjean, Haas, + 2.464
20. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, + 2.621
21. Esteban Ocon, Manor, + 2.784
22. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, + 3.217