Germany lost two of its stars in the second phase of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix as both Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher failed to muster enough pace to bump their way into the top ten.
Which was the bigger surprise begs debate, but Sutil and Force India were tipped to come close to repeating his front row spot from a year ago. The German youngster was locked into a tit-for-tat battle with veteran Rubens Barrichello, with each knocking the other out of tenth place. However, when it came to the crunch, Sutil was found wanting, missing out by 0.057secs after his final lap failed to produce the hoped-for improvement.
Schumacher, meanwhile, was always on the margin, having missed the same cut in four of the past five races, and, having posted sector one times right on the pace of the frontrunners, fell away in the second and third to remain in twelfth spot.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa also missed out, taking 13th and 17th positions, sandwiching Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, with Renault's Vitaly Petrov - still under threat of penalty for blocking Timo Glock in Q1 - sitting in 15th.
Ferrari again set the pace, with Fernando Alonso lowering his best time to 1min 22.297secs, which proved sufficient to keep Jenson Button's late improvement at bay. The Briton posted a final lap that deprived McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton of third, while Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica - who, like Hamilton, did not attempt a last run - Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg and Barrichello rounding out the shoot-out participants.