Sebastian Vettel was untouchable once again in Austin, leading practice for the umpteenth time this season. The German’s fourteen lap run, one of the smallest runnings of the afternoon, pitched him two tenths clear of team-mate Mark Webber who as per usual occupied second place to reaffirm Red Bull’s stronghold. Lewis Hamilton was the best of the rest, setting a last second lap to place mere thousandths behind Webber’s quickest lap. Nico Hulkenberg had a good showing for Sauber in fourth, with Romain Grosjean a further tenth behind for Lotus. The McLaren duo of Jenson Button in sixth and Sergio Perez in eighth sandwiched Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg while Valtteri Bottas and Adrian Sutil filled out the top ten for Williams and Force India respectively.
Fernando Alonso was ominously off the pace in his Ferrari, eleventh on the standings and over a full second behind Vettel. Esteban Gutierrez was twelfth ahead of Heikki Kovalainen who seemed to have lost some of the magic he demonstrated on Friday. Pastor Maldonado, whose sponsor, PDVSA, claim is in at Lotus, was fourteenth for Williams, with Daniel Ricciardo fifteenth. Paul di Resta out-paced Felipe Massa who also finished below par in seventeenth. Jean-Eric Vergne took eighteenth ahead of Charles Pic who was the fastest of the back-markers. Giedo van der Garde was half a second slower than his French counter-part, but nearly a full second quicker than the Marussia of Jules Bianchi who had reigned in the ten second deficit he held on Friday. Max Chilton was twenty-second, and last.