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United States GP: Sebastian Vettel completes practice clean sweep

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Austin 2012Sebastian Vettel goes into United States Grand Prix qualifying as a strong pole favourite after completing a clean sweep of fastest practice times on Saturday morning at Austin.

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 seconds.

The Red Bull's ability to get its tyres working in the chilly morning temperatures appeared to be key.

Many drivers found that they could not generate any tyre 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 tyre times, with Hamilton finally making it to a 1m36.748s. The McLarens had been first and second on hard tyre pace earlier in the session.

Pastor Maldonado fared better than many with the tyres and got his Williams to second for a spell before Hamilton slipped ahead.

Fernando Alonso's first medium tyre 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 tyres 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
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