Sebastian Vettel goes into United States Grand Prix qualifying as a strong pole favorite after completing a clean sweep of fastest practice times on Saturday morning at Austin's Circuit of The Americas.
As had been the case in both Friday sessions, when Vettel unleashed the Red Bull's pace, he blasted the rest of the field away, although Lewis Hamilton eventually narrowed the gap to 0.258 of a second.
The Red Bull's ability to get its tires working in the chilly morning temperatures appeared to be key. Many drivers found that they could not generate any tire temperature in time when they moved onto the medium Pirellis in the final minutes.
Vettel was a spectacular exception, as he swiftly delivered a 1m36.490s. Others needed several more laps to improve on their hard tire times, with Hamilton finally making it to a 1m36.748s. The McLarens had been first and second on hard tire pace earlier in the session.
Pastor Maldonado fared better than many with the tires and got his Williams to second for a spell before Hamilton slipped ahead.
Fernando Alonso's first medium tire run saw his Ferrari slew wildly off the road at Turn 19. He eventually got to fourth, with team-mate Felipe Massa behind Nico Rosberg's Mercedes in sixth. Mark Webber, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button completed the top 10.
Two drivers ended the session on the sidelines. Jean-Eric Vergne parked his Toro Rosso trackside with broken suspension, while compatriot Romain Grosjean got no mileage on the medium tires as a gearbox issue kept his Lotus in the garage.
After Friday's clash between Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen, drivers continued to trip over each other during practice three.
Michael Schumacher and Massa had a near miss at the penultimate corner, and Perez and Charles Pic made contact at Turn 7 as the Sauber tried to dive past the Marussia, which was shoved into a spin. Both Perez and Pic were summoned to the stewards after the session.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.490s 18
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.748s + 0.258s 20
3. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.001s + 0.511s 21
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.180s + 0.690s 21
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.247s + 0.757s 24
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.262s + 0.772s 27
7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m37.298s + 0.808s 18
8. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.415s + 0.925s 20
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m37.495s + 1.005s 20
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.538s + 1.048s 20
11. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m37.569s + 1.079s 21
12. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m37.760s + 1.270s 21
13. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m37.765s + 1.275s 26
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.953s + 1.463s 23
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.547s + 2.057s 23
16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m38.653s + 2.163s 22
17. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m38.753s + 2.263s 11
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.689s + 3.199s 12
19. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.407s + 3.917s 23
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m40.753s + 4.263s 19
21. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m41.011s + 4.521s 19
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.466s + 4.976s 19
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m43.563s + 7.073s 21
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m44.043s + 7.553s 23
All timing unofficial