For the second race running, Paul di Resta had to bear the news that he had been bumped from an F1 qualifying session after completing his last lap, this time after Bruno Senna sneaked into the top ten shoot-out by six-thousandths of a second.
di Resta made the most of a limited appearance in the second phase of qualifying by vaulting straight into tenth place, and had survived the assault of various other midfield runners before crossing the line with just a few clicks left on the clock. His position remained tenuous, however, with Senna - who started in the top ten on his Lotus Renault debut at Spa - still on track.
The Brazilian was over a tenth up on his quarry before running wide exiting the Ascari chicane, and the eventual gap between them was almost as slim as it could be, as Senna joined Renault team-mate Petrov in the top ten after benefiting from an inadvertent tow from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. Joining di Resta on the sidelines, meanwhile, were Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil, Williams twins Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, and the two Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, who sandwiched the remaining Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi in 16th.
Sebastian Vettel returned to the top of the times with a lap of 1min 22.914secs, finishing ahead of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.