Red Bull's Max Verstappen set the pace in final practice in bright sunshine at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Saturday, almost half a second faster than anyone else on the track.
The entire top eight were within a second of each other as McLaren driver Lando Norris came second, while defending champion Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was a slender 0.1sec behind in third in the final practice ahead of qualifying later Saturday.
Hamilton beat Verstappen on the season opening Bahrain GP in March but Mercedes were wary of the Red Bulls' superior speed ahead of the weekend and Hamilton will need to fall back on all his experience to clinch pole.
"We may have won the first round, but we are under no illusions that this is going to be an easy season," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said.
"Our car still lacks speed on a single lap and Red Bull have the edge at the moment."
On a bright day at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari track with the snow-capped Appenines visible in the background Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull was fourth.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly were on the next row and the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz was in seventh on the same time as Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes.
Rounding out the top 10 were the Alpha Romeo Alpine pair of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon as they impress on the car's return to F1.