Carlos Sainz had another very solid session for Ferrari in fourth, with Bottas fifth and Daniel Ricciardo sixth. Sainz was ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque finishing the day in 12th.
The ever impressive Yuki Tsunoda was seventh, with his best time of the day less than half a second back from the pace setter Verstappen.
Lance Stroll was eighth, in some better news for Aston Martin who had looked to be struggling early on, while Pierre Gasly and Perez rounded out the top 10.
Alpine did not have the best of days, with Esteban Ocon 11th and Fernando Alonso 15th. The Enstone team’s fastest time so far was more than six tenths slower than McLaren’s, while they were more than three tenths slower than Aston Martin.
Antonio Giovinazzi was 13th for Alfa Romeo, who look to have pulled away from Haas and Williams, while Sebastian Vettel was 14th. The four-time world champion does not yet look fully comfortable in his new car, but will have been encouraged to see his teammate posting a more competitive lap time on the soft tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen, who ended the day 16th, lost his front wing in the early going after he went off the track at Turn 2. Despite making contact with the wall, the Finn managed to get his C41 back to the pits.