Nico Rosberg missed the boat for the third and final qualifying session ahead of Sunday's United States Grand Prix, the biggest name to do so after recent strong runs from the Williams team.

The German was dumped into the bottom six by Giancarlo Fisichella's late improvement, and was then unable to climb higher than 14th on his own last attempt. That left him to join Williams team-mate Alex Wurz on the sidelines after the Austrian missed out by a hundredth of a second in Q1.

Rosberg was joined in the Q2 drop zone by both Hondas, Jenson Button finishing ahead of Rubens Barrichello, the second Super Aguri, after Anthony Davidson failed to better 16th, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard, the Scot failing to build on Red Bull's strong start to the weekend. There was some solace for the Milton Keynes team, however, as Mark Webber took ninth, one place ahead of final 'qualifier' Jarno Trulli, who gave Toyota one representative in the final shoot-out.

Fernando Alonso again led the way - making it five sessions from five - with Lewis Hamilton second fastest after a couple of errors limited his potential. Ferrari exacted some revenge on BMW Sauber, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa filling positions three and four ahead of Nick Heidfeld. Rookie Sebastian Vettel was unable to back up his team-mate as Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen both moved ahead of him with the do-or-die efforts late in the session.

 

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