Third-placed Fernando Alonso was 0.998s behind Verstappen, with Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll a few hundredths of a second further behind in fourth place.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was fifth-best while Ferrari’s low-key start to the season continued as Charles Leclerc was its fastest representative in sixth, with Carlos Sainz at the foot of the top 10.
Lando Norris was seventh, just eight-thousandths ahead of rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri, who in turn was only three-thousandths clear of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
George Russell was only 11th, though finished within three-tenths of a second of team-mate Hamilton in a congested group, with Zhou Guanyu, Nico Hülkenberg, Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon covered by under a tenth of a second.
AlphaTauri driver Nyck de Vries was a non-participant in the session after the team detected a power unit issue earlier in the day, forcing the component to be changed in the AT04.
It proved an underwhelming session for the team as Yuki Tsunoda was the slowest of the 19 drivers after setting his best time on Medium tyres.
Qualifying for Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is scheduled for 20:00 local time