Double world champion Fernando Alonso missed qualifying altogether in Monaco, but would have expected better from the trip to Istanbul Park, only to mess up his final run in the second session.
Driver error heading into the tight final section of the lap left the Ferrari driver with just one lap to ensure that he escaped the drop zone, but Alonso proved unable to summon enough pace to make up the tenths that separated him from the safety of the top ten and will start round seven of the season from the outside of row six.
The Spaniard joins Adrian Sutil, Pedro de la Rosa, Sebastien Buemi, Rubens Barrichello, Jaime Alguersuari and Nico Hulkenberg in dropping out at the end of the 15-minute session, casting a pall over Ferrari's 800th grand prix celebrations and inadvertently giving beleaguered team-mate Felipe Massa a boost, after the Brazilian clocked the fifth-best time of the session at a circuit where he has excelled in the past.
Sutil's exit came after a yo-yo ride in the closing moments, the German being dumped out of the top ten by Nico Rosberg's escape from the drop zone, and then making his way back in by pushing Kamui Kobayashi down to eleventh. The Sauber driver would have his revenge, however, turning the tables on Sutil without leaving the German time to reply. Kobayashi's improvement left Michael Schumacher on the cusp of disaster, but the seven-time champion wasn't under threat with no time for anyone to post a better mark.
Schumacher, Massa, Rosberg and Kobayashi will be joined in the top ten shoot-out by another F1 newcomer, Vitaly Petrov, Renault team-mate Robert Kubica, McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, as all look to take the fight to Red Bull pacesetters Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber after the German again led the way.