It was Lewis Hamilton who set the outright pace. The Briton looked strong throughout and quickly worked his way into the 1m 25s bracket, at one stage leaving him almost two seconds clear of the field.
The Briton eventually posted a 1m 25.141s, which stood until the chequered flag despite Nico Rosberg's best efforts - the German closed bit by bit on Hamilton's benchmark, and eventually wound up just one tenth of a second down on 1m 25.250s.
Those laps came after Perez had given everyone a scare by rolling his Force India. The Mexican ran extremely wide on to the rumble strips on the exit of Turn 11, appeared to suffer a failure of his right rear suspension, and was flicked sharp right across the track and into the barriers. That caused heavy damage, and appeared to also trigger his roll when the left front tyre - broken but still attached via the wheel tethers - dug in under the VJM08 and sent it into the air.
The car was badly damaged, but there was widespread relief as the Mexican was able to extract himself unharmed. The news was quickly radioed by the teams to their concerned drivers.
Perez had been eighth fastest at the time, and stayed there through unusual circumstance. Raikkonen was trying to improve on his 1m 25.812s best when, not long after Perez’s debris had been cleared up, his Ferrari’s front wing collapsed as he ran wide over the saw-tooth kerb exiting Turn 12. As he limped back to the pits without the wing and with a flat front left tyre, the session was red flagged again. It was restarted with seconds to spare, but naturally nobody went quicker.
Behind the Finn, Daniel Ricciardo narrowly headed Red Bull team mate Daniil Kvyat, with 1m 26.053s to 1m 26.070s. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was next up, managing 1m 26.395s despite reporting power loss. Carlos Sainz was seventh for Toro Rosso on 1m 26.727s, with Perez’s 1m 26.776s retaining his eighth slot. Valtteri Bottas was ninth for Williams with 1m 26.825s as Max Verstappen completed the top 10 and the sub-1m 27s runners, with 1m 26.934s in the other Toro Rosso.
There was a modicum of hope for McLaren with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button 11th and 12th on 1m 27.272s and 1m 27.308s respectively, as Nico Hulkenberg took 13th for Force India on 1m 27.317s. Brazlian duo Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr were next up - the Williams driver lapped in 1m 27.381s, the Sauber pilot in 1m 27.409s - while Nasr’s team mate Marcus Ericsson was 16th on 1m 27.732s.
Lotus had a difficult morning, completing just a handful of laps. Pastor Maldonado only managed 1m 28.568s for 17th, while a frustrated Jolyon Palmer didn’t set a time.
Fabio Leimer looked good initially against regular encumbent Will Stevens at Marussia, but the Briton subsequently improved to 1m 29.693s as the Swiss did not improve on what had been a decent 1m 30.631s.