Vitaly Petrov joined the six expected casualties after the first phase of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, losing out in what became a personal survival battle between the two Lotus Renault drivers.
While Team Lotus, Marussia Virgin and HRT filled the final three rows of the grid for much of the 20-minute session, Petrov and team-mate Bruno Senna found themselves battling over the 18th and final spot in the drop zone. Indeed, Petrov also trailed Team Lotus Heikki Kovalainen with five minutes remaining, but vaulted above the Finn and Senna with his final flying lap. Senna, though, was still on track and, with Kovalainen not improving his time ahead of him, completed his run with a time that lifted him to 15th, pushing Petrov back below the margin in the process.
Renault, however, may seek a penalty against Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari for allegedly blocking Senna, a move which could result in Petrov being granted a reprieve at the Spaniard's expense.
Kovalainen and Lotus team-mate Jarno Trulli proved evenly matched once the Italian raised his game, and will fill row ten, while Virgin pair Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio both improved on their final effort to move ahead of HRT's Daniel Ricciardo and Tonio Liuzzi. The Australian rookie outqualified his team-mate for the second straight race, but it mattered little as Liuzzi carried a spurious five-place penalty from the Italian event.
At the front of the field, it only took one run for the frontrunners to secure their places, with Sebastian Vettel heading Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in the top five.