While Albon moved up to third, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, also running on the soft tyre, clocked in fourth, just a few tenths in front of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, sporting his special ‘Longhorns’ helmet dedicated to Texas University’s football team.

Oddly, neither Hamilton or Bottas were anywhere to be seen among the top ten, the Briton appearing to spend most of his session pounding around on the new-spec tyre, and continuing to complain about COTA’s bumpy surface.

With five minutes to go, Mercedes finally showed a bit of its championship-winning hand, with Hamilton jumping to fourth. But low and behold, the reigning champ’s time was deleted, once again for exceeding track limits! There won’t be avoiding the ever-present timing loop at Turn 19 this weekend.

The session concluded with Verstappen, leading Vettel, Albon, Gasly and Ricciardo, while Grosjean was sixth, edging Leclerc, Hamilton, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Magnussen who rounded off the top ten.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

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