Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was just shy of a tenth of a second slower than the Dutchman in third, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas four-tenths back in sixth.
Despite seemingly being in the hunt for pole, Verstappen feels Mercedes will cure what he suspects were balance issues on the W11 across the two sessions.
"I personally think they [Mercedes] are still struggling a bit with the balance," assessed Verstappen. "I expect them to be stronger tomorrow. You can see already on the long runs they are already very competitive.
"I'm not expecting to fight for pole position, but if we can be a bit closer that would be good."
Overall, Verstappen has a good base on which to build going into the weekend.
"A racing car is never perfect so you always try to find things in the car where you can improve so we will look into that, also with tyre prep and everything," added Verstappen.
"It's early days but from our side, it is a good start. There are still some things to work on for tomorrow, of course, but overall I'm pretty happy."
In the second Red Bull, Alex Albon put in a strong Friday performance to end the day fourth fastest, 0.390s behind his team-mate.
A content Albon said: "From the very first lap the car felt strong. We've brought some things here this weekend and it's making the car just a little bit better.
"Corner balance feels good as well, so I'm happy it's progressing in the right way."
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