Adrian Sutil upset the European Grand Prix applecart with his final qualifying lap of Q2, doing enough to push Renault's Vitaly Petrov out of the pole position shoot-out.
The German appeared destined for eleventh place before embarking on his final run, and Force India team-mate Paul di Resta had to make do with twelfth after failing to improve on his final run. Sutil, however, pushed hard right to the end, eventually crossing the line 0.034secs under Petrov's best. The Russian was still on track, on a circuit where he has won three times in GP2, but backed off when it became apparent that he would not improve his time.
Petrov and di Resta were joined among the seven drivers to drop out by both Williams pilots, Pastor Maldonado having been hampered by suspected electrical problems that stranded him out on track and brought out the red flag for five minutes. Neither Sauber made it through either, with Kamui Kobayashi continuing to lock up and flat-spot tyres as he had in free practice, while Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi will line up 17th - alongside team-mate Jaime Alguersuari, who exited in Q1. Kobayashi will start from 14th, two places ahead of rookie team-mate Sergio Perez, and sandwiched between the two Williams.
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the session, but his 1min 39.116secs effort was still some way shy of his morning practice pace. Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber completed the top five, with Sutil joining Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld among the challengers for pole position.