Jenson Button made the final phase of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix by the skin of his teeth after flirting with the drop zone throughout the 15-minute middle session.
The Briton twice escaped from tenth position, only to be dropped back into trouble as other drivers improved around him, and found himself on the brink as time ticked down with both Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg on flying laps. Ultimately, neither was able to improve their position, even if times were quicker, and the world champion survived, having had one of his own flying laps compromised briefly by Pedro de la Rosa.
In his place, Hulkenberg and Sutil were joined in taking their leave of qualifying by de la Rosa, Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi and Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, while Vitaly Petrov ensured that he would play no part in the Q2 showdown after smacking the wall at Ste Devote.
Nico Rosberg topped the times for Mercedes, leading Q1 pacesetter Felipe Massa and Red Bull's Mark Webber. The trio will be joined in the fight for pole by Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Liuzzi, Rubens Barrichello and the fortunate Button.