Sebastian Vettel kept his clean sheet intact through the Chinese Grand Prix weekend by setting the fastest lap in the final free practice session in Shanghai.
The Red Bull driver, who was also fastest in both of Friday's sessions and who has won both of the first two races from pole position, showed no signs of relenting his grip on the field by setting a 1m34.968s lap. Such was his dominance, that each time he ventured out on to the track, he set a fastest lap time.
Jenson Button got closest to the German with a lap just 0.208s slower, while Lewis Hamilton moved up to third position in the closing stages having appeared to have had a mildly frustrating session that included at least one-off track moment.
Nico Rosberg was an impressive fourth fastest, having played a role at the top end of the times for much of the session.
Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest for Ferrari ahead of his team-mate Felipe Massa. Vitaly Petrov kept Renault in the hunt with the seventh quickest time, with Adrian Sutil, Michael Schumacher and Paul di Resta completing the top ten.
The Scot was the first man to get out on track and do some serious running having lost a great deal of time on Friday afternoon with a fuel pressure problem, and naturally the Force India driver was also then the early pace-setter with a 1m40.459s.
Before the 20-minute mark however, several drivers had joined di Resta - celebrating his 25th birthday - on track. Very quickly, Schumacher moved to the top of the times with a 1m38.516s.
Schumacher then improved that lap to set a 1m38.345s, which was enough to fend off not only di Resta, but also Sergio Perez's Sauber.
Of course this all became academic once the McLarens started firing in laps five minutes before the halfway point in the session, and Button shot to the top of the times with a 1m37.367s.
The 2009 world champion improved on that with his next lap, a 1m36.918s, and that was just as well because Rosberg - who has looked much more comfortable with the Mercedes this weekend - was just four thousandths slower!
And then, with 28 minutes of the session gone, Vettel put it all in to perspective with his first flying lap - a 1m36.053s on the prime tyre. That was 0.865s faster than anybody had gone up to that point, and more than a second faster than his own best from Friday.
His team-mate Mark Webber was not enjoying anything like that kind of serenity as once again the Australian found himself apparently dealing with an electrical problem - a slow exploratory lap (which included an off-track moment at Turn 6) ended with him being greeted back in the pits by engineers well protected against any KERS-related injuries.
With 20 minutes to go, Schumacher showed he wasn't done with this session and got within 0.088s of Vettel's time - albeit equipped with some of Pirelli's soft option tyres. His Mercedes team-mate Rosberg though went even better and moved to the top of the times with a 1m35.677s.
Webber finally got a timed lap in with 15 minutes to go, but apparently without the use of KERS, his lap good enough to place him sixth (which became 15th), splitting the Toro Rossos of Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari. But then the Australian headed back into the pits, clearly still unhappy with the car.
Rosberg stayed on top until the last five minutes when everyone came out in qualifying trim on soft tyres. He was finally dismissed from first position by Vettel, whose Red Bull was able to access its KERS, and the world champion became the only person over the weekend to go through the 1m34s barrier.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m34.968s 13
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.176s + 0.208s 15
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.373s + 0.405s 14
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.677s + 0.709s 18
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.818s + 0.850s 17
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.971s + 1.003s 15
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m36.098s + 1.130s 18
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.125s + 1.157s 15
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.141s + 1.173s 14
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.370s + 1.402s 18
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m36.404s + 1.436s 16
12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.582s + 1.614s 18
13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.596s + 1.628s 17
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.717s + 1.749s 16
15. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.896s + 1.928s 5
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.953s + 1.985s 14
17. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m37.007s + 2.039s 20
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m37.304s + 2.336s 18
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m38.176s + 3.208s 12
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m38.739s + 3.771s 12
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.938s + 4.970s 17
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.998s + 5.030s 16
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m40.593s + 5.625s 17
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m40.881s + 5.913s 18
All Timing Unofficial