MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Dutch teenager Max Verstappen grabbed top spot for Red Bull ahead of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in Saturday (Oct 29) morning's third and final free practice ahead of Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.
In a frantic end to a one hour session that saw the Red Bull team show their pace in the bright, clear, but cool conditions, Verstappen wound up just 0.094 seconds clear of defending champion Hamilton who was held up by traffic.
Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo also showed a big improvement to take third place ahead of championship leader Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes, the German four-tenths of a second off the pace.
Valterri Bottas was fifth for Williams ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in the second Williams.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth in his Force India and Carlos Sainz 10th for Toro Rosso.
Rosberg, who has a 26 points lead with three races remaining, struggled to make an impact on the session. He can win the title on Sunday if he wins and Hamilton scores no more than one point.
Verstappen's best lap was inside Rosberg's pole position time set in qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez a year ago and signalled that, unless the leader can find a big improvement, the prospects for Sunday's race and the championship could be given a major shake-up in qualifying later Saturday.