Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta missed a shot at pole position at the German Grand Prix after being dumped out of the top ten in second qualifying by their respective team-mates.
Heidfeld was clinging tenaciously to tenth on the timesheets as the clock was replaced by the chequered flag but, when he failed to improve his position on his final flying lap, he left himself vulnerable to those still on circuit behind him. It was ironic, however, that it was Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov that finally displaced the German.
The precedent had already been set, as di Resta, having clawed his way out of the drop zone, found himself in danger with a few minutes still to run. Again, it was the enemy within that claimed the Scot, as Adrian Sutil ensured that he will start in the top ten at his home race on Sunday.
Joining Heidfeld and di Resta in exiting at the end of the second act were Williams twins Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello - the Venezuelan rookie having twice traded places with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher - the second Sauber of Sergio Perez, who nevertheless out-qualified team-mate Kamui Kobayashi after the Japanese exited in Q1, and both Toro Rossos, with Sebastian Buemi getting a narrow edge over Jaime Alguersuari.
The sharp end of the order had a more familiar ring to it, even though it was Lewis Hamilton setting the pace, ahead of the Red Bulls and Ferraris. The Briton was marginally slower than Sebastian Vettel's best lap from morning practice, and had the German as his closest rival in Q2 and just 0.019secs adrift.
The pole position shoot-out contenders are completed by Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Sutil, Petrov and Schumacher.