Kamui Kobayashi was in the pits at just the wrong time as opening qualifying drew to a close at the Nurburgring, and missed the cut as a result.
The Japanese driver dropped to the edge of the drop zone and teetered for several minutes before Nico Rosberg's late improvement proved enough to tip him into the abyss, joining the six expected backmarkers from Team Lotus, Marussia Virgin and HRT.
Just over a tenth separated Kobayashi from Rubens Barrichello, who had also had to stage an escape from the bottom seven, but the Sauber driver had nearly two seconds in hand over Heikki Kovalainen in 19th. The Finn looked set to share row ten of the grid with stand-in team-mate Karun Chandhok, but the Indian was pipped on the final lap by local favourite Timo Glock, despite the German being clearly unhappy with his Virgin.
Team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio was 22nd fastest, and finished the session ahead of the two HRTs, despite Tonio Liuzzi appearing a match for the Belgian. Rookie team-mate Daniel Ricciardo again brought up the rear, as he did at Silverstone, but easily made it inside the 107 per cent time of 1min 38.253secs as he lapped just 0.025secs off Liuzzi.
The top of the timesheets had an unusual look to it, with Felipe Massa using up a set of soft Pirellis to set the pace, ahead of Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld. Paul di Resta and Rosberg both leapt into the top six straight from the drop zone, while Fernando Alonso was the best of the expected pacesetters in seventh.