Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany topped the times in Saturday morning's final free practice for Sunday's German Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver, who is also the runaway leader in this year's title race, clocked a best time of one minute and 30.916 seconds in the final seconds of a closely-contested session run in cold conditions.
The 24-year-old champion's best lap lifted him just clear of his team-mate Australian Mark Webber, by one-tenth of a second - but the Australian's best lap was marred when he had to slow, ironically, because of Vettel.
Two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was third just two-tenths off the pace, having demonstrated he remains a major contender after winning the British Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Briton Lewis Hamilton was fourth for McLaren ahead of his team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button with German Nico Rosberg sixth in the leading Mercedes.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of two more Germans, Adrian Sutil of Force India and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, in the second Mercedes. Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado was 10th for Williams.
On a cool, overcast morning in the Eifel mountains, the air temperature was only 12 degrees Celsius and the track temperature just 22 degrees - making it the coldest circuit of the season to date, a major factor in the performance of the tyres.
Rosberg and his Mercedes team-mate Schumacher were the early pace-setters followed by Mexican Sergio Perez for Sauber and then Alonso. Rosberg responded, but then Alonso switched to the softer tyres to take over at the top again ahead of Webber and Hamilton.
But in the final minutes, Red Bull sent their men out on soft tyres and managed to take control of the top two positions.