Michael Schumacher narrowly avoided becoming the highest profile casualty of Formula One's knock-out qualifying procedure in 2010, pulling out a last-gasp lap to consign Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi to the danger zone along with the newcomer teams.

The German, already under fire after a lacklustre Canadian Grand Prix, the seven-time world champion slid down the order before Pedro de la Rosa's improvement deposited him into the seventh and final spot in the danger zone. A suspected power steering problem may have hampered his first flying lap in the closing minutes, but Schumacher responded by vaulting into twelfth as he passed the chequered flag.

The Mercedes man's rise proved too much for Kobayashi, who had no time to respond, and was confined to another early bath, along with the various representatives from Lotus, Virgin and HRT. Jarno Trulli kept Lotus, on the eve of its 500th grand prix appearance, at the head of the new boys, as the teams lined up two-by-two, while Lucas di Grassi got the better of Virgin team-mate Timo Glock for the first time this season.

At the head of the field, Robert Kubica left it late before even venturing out of the pit-lane, but promptly banged in two laps good enough to take top spot from Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button.

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