After a slow start to the session during which rain fell persistently, Vettel lapped his stable RB10 in 1m 52.522s on Pirelli's intermediate tyres, whilst Ricciardo went round in 1m 52.631s. The Lotus cars of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean were third and fourth, the Venezuelan lapping in 1m 53.044s and the Frenchman in 1m 53.566s despite a lurid spin at Club Corner.
Adrian Sutil made it a good day for Sauber, taking fifth place on 1m 53.585s in a late run for the Swiss team, as Daniil Kvyat continued his hugely impressive form with sixth for Toro Rosso on 1m 53.654s. That left Kevin Magnussen seventh for McLaren on 1m 53.911s ahead of team mate Jenson Button on 1m 54.041s, as Williams' Valtteri Bottas (1m 54.217s) and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (1m 54.558s) completed the top 10.
Jean-Eric Vergne was 11th for Toro Rosso on 1m 54.602s as Esteban Gutierrez also improved right at the end to place his Sauber 12th on 1m 54.761s. Felipe Massa was 13th in the second Williams with 1m 55.003s, as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez struggled with their Force Indias to 1m 55.688s and 1m 56.918s. Marcus Ericsson, who earlier had headed a Caterham one-two, was 16th on 1m 57.091s ahead of Jules Bianchi's Marussia on 1m 57.566s and team mate Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 57.914s. Bianchi later went straight on at Stowe before coming to a halt with a gentle touch of the tyre barriers.
Max Chilton had similarly bad luck, completing just a single lap before the team decided his gearbox needed replacing. Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton joined the Briton in not recording a time, though Rosberg and Hamilton did set the fastest times respectively in sectors one and two.
The forecast for qualifying is for more rain, so we could see the order turned upside down once more...