Mark Webber ensured that Red Bull Racing's pole-winning streak continued into the tenth round of 2011, but the Australian was nearly upstaged by Lewis Hamilton and McLaren.
With pole expected to be fought out between Webber, RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Silverstone winner Fernando Alonso, Hamilton's appearance at the top of the times in Q2 raised a few eyebrows, without causing anyone to consider the Briton as a viable contender. However, even as Webber rewrote the fastest lap of the weekend, Hamilton joined the fight, eventually splitting the two blue machines and only missing out on top spot by 0.055secs.
With Webber taking top spot for the third time in 2011, Vettel was forced off the front row for the first time of the season - and at his home race. Webber, of course, won in Germany last year, and will now look to convert his pole into a better start than at either Silverstone or Barcelona.
Alonso, quick throughout practice, had to settle for fourth, with Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa next up, but half a second slower. Jenson Button was equally disappointed to be distant from his team-mate, the 2009 world champion lapping 1.1secs slower than a clearly-fired up Hamilton and having to accept seventh position as Nico Rosberg eased hi Mercedes onto the outside of row three.
Adrian Sutil was no threat to the McLaren man, however, clocking a time another second slower, while Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher rounded out the top ten.