Intermittent rain over the Nurburgring continued to cause drama in German Grand Prix qualifying, with any number of F1's big names facing the threat of dropping out of the session at its second hurdle.
A seemingly dry track as the green light appeared at the end of pit-lane proved to be anything but, with Kazuki Nakajima and Felipe Massa spinning off on their out-laps. Everyone bar Mark Webber pitted for Bridgestone's 'intermediates', and the Australian quickly discovered that he was definitely in the wrong, rather than just the minority. As a result, no competitive times had been set as the session moved into its second third.
Fernando Alonso was the first to post a flying lap but, with everyone on suitable rubber, top spot changed regularly, with Nick Heidfeld, Lewis Hamilton, Alonso and Heidfeld again and, finally, Webber occupying P1. The Australian was clearly on it following his faux pas
posting a time fully 3.7secs quicker than Heidfeld's benchmark.
Rubens Barrichello, having not posted a time, then reset the thinking by posting a 1min 34.469secs on slicks, improving on that by a handful of thousandths to ensure that he kept top spot, but at the other end, there was drama right to the chequered flag.
Points leader Jenson Button remained mired in the drop zone until his final lap, while Hamilton, Alonso and Jarno Trulli all also featured in the bottom five. When the flag fell, Alonso and Trulli were still there, the Spaniard having been hampered by a spin at the final chicane.
Both Williams drivers, along with Heidfeld - who pitted in the closing minute - also missed the cut, but Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen both escaped by the skin of their teeth, joining surprise packages Adrian Sutil and Nelson Piquet Jr and both Red Bulls among those in the top ten shootout.