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Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have topped the timesheets for Red Bull Racing ahead of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix as Mercedes chose to hold its cards close to its chest in FP3 in the face of a potential pole position challenge.

With Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton abandoning their super-soft laps late on in the session, Verstappen and Ricciardo were left to demonstrate the RB12's eye-catching pace around the Circuit of the Americas by locking out the top spot.

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Proving especially quick through the fast corners of the first sector, neither Hamilton nor Rosberg could match them in the first sector alone regardless, though by scrapping their efforts it remains to be seen how Mercedes compares like-for-like over an entire lap.

As such, Verstappen led the way with a rapid 1min 36.766secs lap, three tenths up on team-mate Ricciardo in the sister car and half-a-second quicker than third place Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari.

Hamilton and Rosberg wound up fourth and fifth, albeit having set their fastest times on the soft rubber, with Sebastian Vettel sixth but hindered by a suspected gearbox problem.

Nico Hulkenberg headed up the 'best of the rest' for Force India is seventh position, with Valtteri Bottas leading a much improved Williams to eighth. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso completed the top ten for McLaren-Honda.

Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz endured a difficult session after suffering two separate punctures (left rear and right rear) en route to 15th fastest, while Pascal Wehrlein caused a red flag when he spun at Turn 19 and beached his Manor in the gravel.

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