Fernando Alonso was the highest profile casualty of the first qualifying session at the Yas Marina circuit, but the exit of both Force India drivers caused almost as big a surprise in Abu Dhabi.
Alonso had no time to respond to being dumped into the drop zone with the chequered flag already flying, but hadn't done enough in the preceding 20 minutes to ensure his Renault safe passage to Q2. The Spaniard joins rookie team-mate Romain Grosjean - who spun again - and hapless Ferrari stand-in Giancarlo Fisichella in bowing out at the first hurdle, but no-one would have predicted both Force India's going with them.
While Tonio Liuzzi always looked a likely victim after failing to break out of the bottom five places, but team-mate Adrian Sutil had expected more. However, having slipped quietly into the danger zone, the German proved unable to muster the sort of pace he had shown in free practice and will line up only 17th on Sunday.
At the other end of the timesheet, pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton set out his stall with the first sub 1min 40secs lap of the weekend, then retired to the pits to watch his rivals scrap over second place. That eventually went to BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, with team-mate Nick Heidfeld third fastest, ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel. Morning pacesetter - and new world champion - Jenson Button was tenth fastest.