Mercedes proved to be the fall guys in second qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, with both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg missing out in the late positional shuffle that accompanied a drying track at Spa-Francorchamps.
Both drivers were already set to drop down the order having picked up penalties prior to qualifying - Schumacher for the move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary, and Rosberg for a gearbox change after practice - but had looked good early in the session and would have hoped to go through. With the track drying and drivers posting successively faster laps, however, it wasn't to be, with Barrichello escaping the drop zone at Schumacher's expense and Rosberg unable to find enough time on his last run to secure a top ten shootout place.
Toro Rosso duo Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi will join the Mercedes pair on the sidelines, as will Force India's Tonio Liuzzi, while neither Lotus or Virgin could make more of the rare chance to run in Q2, with Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock winding up 16th and 17th respectively - only just ahead of their regular starting slots.
At the top of the timesheets, Lewis Hamilton set the early pace at 1min 49.853secs, before being usurped by Robert Kubica, Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. The 2008 world champion wasn't to be outdone, however, and stamped his authority on the order by returning to the top with two laps better than nearest rival, and McLaren team-mate, Button. Vettel, Mark Webber and Force India's Adrian Sutil completed the top five, with Kubica, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg all making it into the pole position scrap.