Mark Webber raised hopes of a memorable finale to his Formula One career when he topped the times in Saturday's final free practice session for Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. (Racecentre and timings)
On a day of incessant rain, with only brief intervals, the retirement-bound Australian timed his use of a set of intermediate tyres to near-perfection to clock a best lap of one minute and 27.891 seconds at the Interlagos circuit.
Webber came out of the Red Bull pits with only five minutes remaining to deliver two fastest laps in succession as he trimmed his time and set the standard ahead of his rivals.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was second fastest ahead of his impressive Lotus team-mate Heikki Kovalainen - standing in for injured compatriot Kimi Raikkonen - and another Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams, who was fourth.
German Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Sauber ahead of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso, Mexican Esteban Gutierrez in the second Sauber and eighth-placed Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in the second Williams.
Briton Paul Di Resta was ninth ahead of his Force India team-mate German Adrian Sutil with another Briton, Lewis Hamilton, 11th for Mercedes and Australian Daniel Ricciardo 12th in the second Toro Rosso.
Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg, two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari team-mate local hero Brazilian Felipe Massa and Briton Jenson Button of McLaren all chose not to go out and set a time.
Like most of the field, they were conserving their tyres ahead of a forecast further wet qualifying session later on Saturday.