Melbourne qualifying surprise Pastor Maldonado and the struggling Felipe Massa led the victims of phase two of knock-out qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix after the order continued to revolve right up to the chequered flag.
Both drivers had climbed out of the 'drop zone' on their final efforts, but found that those behind them on track had more in the tank. Maldonado climbed to ninth spot in the Williams, pushing seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher out of the top ten, but the German was to repay the 'favour' on the last flying lap of the 15-minute session, ending Maldonado's involvement in the afternoon.
Massa, meanwhile, pushed Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso into trouble, but the Spaniard was quick to respond, his flying lap putting him above the Brazilian and leaving him 'on the bubble' at the mercy of his rivals. When Sergio Perez moved into eighth place, the writing was on the wall for the Ferrari man, who missed the pole position shoot-out for the second race running.
Also missing out were the two Force Indias, where Paul di Resta for the better of Nico Hulkenberg despite a nervous-looking rear on his VJM05, Bruno Senna, Daniel Ricciardo and Kamui Kobayashi, who all failed to find enough on their flying laps.
At the other end of the times, Kimi Raikkonen added intrigue to the forthcoming pole position battle by claiming the fastest mark, although the Finn faces a five-place gearbox penalty that will render his effort meaningless against the other expected contenders.