Sebastian Vettel put in a late charge on the soft Pirelli tyres to hold the advantage heading into qualifying, however, it's Sauber who are looking good.
Practice got underway with Charles Pic setting the first lap time, a 1:29.495. However, that was quickly dropped as Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez all of whom had a turn in the P1 slot with the latter posting a 1:24.554.
Romain Grosjean ran into problems as the Frenchman came to a halt at Turn 10. He reported to his Lotus team that the engine has stalled with the team confirming that he had suffered a loss of fuel pressure.
The Lotus driver's car was cleared away by the marshals and returned to the pits on a flatbed truck giving Grosjean some hope that he could be back into the action before the end of the session.
A late-ish start for the leading teams meant Perez held onto the P1 slot through the halfway point which is when he was overhauled by Nico Rosberg using the soft option Pirelli tyres.
However, the drivers still out on the hard tyres were not able to challenge the Sauber driver's time, which had been set on the hard rubber. Sebastian Vettel was fourth, Fernando Alonso fifth and Lewis Hamilton sixth.
Perez was the next to head out on the soft tyres and immediately returned to the front with the benchmark time now down to a 1:23.742. Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne was second ahead of Rosberg.
With ten minutes to go in the session, Alonso moved up to second place, 0.665s down on Perez while Kimi Raikkonen took fourth.
However, it could have been a lot different with McLaren at the fore had Jenson Button, and more notably Lewis Hamilton, not run into traffic on their first laps on their soft tyres. That cost both drivers especially Hamilton who was quickest through the first two sectors before coming up to an HRT and Lotus.
The session ended with Kamui Kobayashi taking the P1 slot only to lose out to Pastor Maldonado while Vettel then putting in a late charge to lead the way with a 1:23.168.
01 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.168 13 laps
02 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:23.336 0.168 19 laps
03 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.350 0.182 19 laps
04 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:23.578 0.410 16 laps
05 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:23.742 0.574 22 laps
06 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.807 0.639 15 laps
07 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.833 0.65 14 laps
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:23.909 0.741 13 laps
09 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:23.936 0.768 16 laps
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.070 0.902 24 laps
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:24.179 1.011 16 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:24.323 1.155 17 laps
13 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:24.331 1.163 15 laps
14 Bruno Senna Williams 1:24.409 1.241 18 laps
15 Paul di Resta Force India 1:24.599 1.431 15 laps
16 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.778 1.610 15 laps
17 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.825 1.657 17 laps
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1:25.911 2.743 20 laps
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:26.587 3.419 20 laps
20 Charles Pic Marussia 1:27.469 4.301 18 laps
21 Timo Glock Marussia 1:27.689 4.521 17 laps
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:28.207 5.039 24 laps
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1:28.373 5.205 13 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 2