The Alpine of Fernando Alonso kicked things off in FP3 as the home hero posted a 1:21.020 on the medium compound tyre. Perez beat that on a 1:20.388 to go P1.
Perez led Ricciardo and Alonso as they were the only drivers to have completed a timed lap after 15 minutes.
The Alfa Romeo’s of Giovinazzi and Raikkonen came out on the soft tyres and jumped straight to the top, Giovinazzi’s 1:19.368, over 0.3s quicker than his stablemate.
However, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc soon took over as he clocked a 1:18.997. The Ferrari driver lowered his benchmark soon after to a 1:18.882, 0.167s clear of Sainz.
Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton joined the fray just before the 30-minute mark and quickly assumed their normal positions.
Hamilton’s 1:18.304 on softs put him 0.119s ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen 0.326s away using the medium tyre. The seven-time champion extended his gap at the top thanks to a 1:18.117 later in his first run.
Leclerc, Sainz and Giovinazzi, Gasly, Perez, Russell and Norris rounded out the top 10 at the halfway point.
On their second new set of softs, Leclerc and Sainz vaulted up to P2 and P3, 0.191s and 0.293s away from Hamilton’s P1 time. Kimi Raikkonen put in the fastest time in S1 as he went P5 in the Alfa Romeo.
Raikkonen’s run was cut short as the Finn ended up with a right rear puncture, as Lando Norris ran through the gravel at T10 as he carried too much speed into the corner and the rear snapped away.
On his second set of new tyres, Lewis Hamilton improved fractionally to a 1:18.070, but that was beaten by Max Verstappen in the Red Bull as he put in a storming 1:17.835. The Dutchman was quicker in sectors 1 and 2, with the Mercedes of Hamilton showing superior pace in the final sector.
Behind the title rivals, Leclerc, Sainz, Bottas [who failed to improve on his second set of new softs], Norris, Gasly, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Perez and rounded out the top 10.
Alonso, Tsunoda, Ocon, Stroll, Russell, Giovinazzi, Vettel, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin filled positions 11-20.
In what was an unbelievably tight session, 0.8s covered the top 13 cars as the midfield battle is set to be incredibly close in a couple of hours.