PORTIMAO, Portugal — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time in the third and final practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
Verstappen was .24 seconds quicker than Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, the defending champion who is seeking a record eighth Formula One title, and .33 seconds ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull's Sergio Perez was fourth fastest in warm conditions in Portugal's Algarve region.
Hamilton is aiming for his record-extending 100th pole and 97th win, while Verstappen goes for his 12th win and fifth pole and will be encouraged by the fact he improved on his leading time late in the session.
Mercedes topped the first two practice sessions on Friday, through Bottas and then Hamilton.
The Portugal GP is the third race of the season.
Hamilton leads the championship by one point from Verstappen with both drivers having won one race and taken one pole each.
Hamilton's lead is courtesy of him taking a bonus point for the fastest lap at an incident-packed Emilia-Romagna GP, which Verstappen won.
Hamilton won the season-opener in Bahrain.
Bottas needs to find form after a poor race two weeks ago at Imola, where he was involved in a crash with Williams driver George Russell after an overtaking move went wrong and scored no points.
He dropped to fifth place in the standings behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in what could be his final season with Mercedes.
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