Mercedes had topped the timings in both of Friday’s sessions, with Valtteri Bottas the fastest in FP1 and Hamilton himself was quickest in the afternoon.
And the Brit produced a 1:17.281 during his qualifying run, to the delight of Barcelona star Gerard Pique who appeared in the Mercedes garage.
But Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas was just one thousandth of a second away from pipping him, suggesting that he could challenge for pole in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
There was disappointment at Red Bull for the second time this weekend: Daniel Ricciardo had crashed out of FP1 after a mistake at Turn Four but it was Max Verstappen’s car that this time hit problems.
The Dutchman finished well down the field after an electrical problem left him unable to do a qualifying run and show the true pace.
But the Milton Keynes outfit were still optimistic about their qualifying chances in the cooler conditions after Ricciardo was second in FP2.
And there were more serious problems for the sister team Toro Rosso as they triggered a red flag in the very last minute of the session.
Brendon Hartley lost control of his car after clipping the grass on entry to Turn Nine.
The high-speed shunt left the driver shaken but unhurt and the back of the car was destroyed by the impact with the wall, leaving him unable to take part in qualifying.
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