Ferrari saw their interest in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix end at the second stage, as Kimi Raikkonen joined team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella in dropping out of the three-stage session.
Like fellow world champion Fernando Alonso, who exited at the first hurdle, Raikkonen had no chance to respond to the threat of elimination as a late improvement from Nico Rosberg moved him into the drop zone. The Ferrari had already crossed the line as Rosberg wound up his best effort of the session, and will start eleventh in the inaugural F1 race at Yas Marina.
Rosberg's late escape gives Williams at least one car in the final phase of qualifying, with Kazuki Nakajima dropping out after making an error on his final run. The Japanese driver, who could be facing his final race in the top flight on Sunday, will line up 14th, behind countryman Kamui Kobayashi, who was unable to keep his Toyota in the top ten, and Heikki Kovalainen, whose bid for Q3 was stymied by transmission failure midway through the 15-minute session.
Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari completed the list of those to drop out, but team-mate Sebastien Buemi joins 'big guns' including world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, as well as 2009 race winners Rubens Barrichello, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, in the top ten shootout. Jarno Trulli, Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld and Rosberg complete the line-up. Hamilton was again fastest of all, clocking 1min 39.695secs to improve on his Q1 benchmark.