With as little as two minutes remaining in the opening phase of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, any number of Formula One's 'big names' could have been looking for excuses for missing the cut, but all somehow managed to make it through with last-ditch laps.

Despite Luca Badoer crashing out at Les Combes while the chequered flag was being prepared - missing the cut and most likely bringing the curtain down on his F1 career once and for all - both Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica posted faster times to move out of the bottom five, while Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen had already eased their own concerns, having flirted with the 'drop zone'

Alonso and Kubica, in making their escape, relegated the two Toro Rosso drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, into the bottom quarter of the timesheets, negating otherwise promising performances from both, with Buemi having been among those to have topped the times during the 20-minute session.

Indeed, it seemed as though half the field had taken a turn in P1, with times tumbling throughout. In a moment of symmetry, Giancarlo Fisichella posted the first and final fastest times, giving Force India a welcome fillip at the same circuit where predecessor Jordan had claimed its first F1 victory.

Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and Webber completed the top five - the Italian, Brazilian and German having also led the way at various points - while Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton just avoided the cut after dropping to 14th and 15th by session's end.

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