Nico Hulkenberg was dumped out of a potential shot at pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix with the very last flourish of Q2, as countryman Michael Schumacher produced a lap good enough to climb out of the danger zone.
While Hulkenberg will not be seen as the most likely polesitter this weekend, Kimi Raikkonen's championship bid may have taken a hit after also being denied a place in the top ten on the grid after suffering a similar blow courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. The pair were joined in the group of seven not progressing any further at Marina Bay by Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and the Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Bruno Senna was also out of luck, but his fate was largely of his own making after clouting the wall before he had even set a time.
At the front of the field, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel resumed their personal battle and this time remained immune to rivals trying softer rubber as they lapped more than a second quicker than anyone else. After Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso had set the benchmark in the 1min 48s, Vettel responded with a 1min 46.791secs effort that appeared to be beyond anyone - until Hamilton came round and took another tenth off the target. The Briton's McLaren team-mate dropped into third, but was fully 1.1secs adrift, and still opted not to venture back out, providing a few nervy moments as he was pushed further down the order in the closing minutes.
Mark Webber, facing a potential five-place penalty if found guilty of obstructing Timo Glock in Q1, eventually claimed third spot, ahead of Romain Grosjean - the Frenchman having survived a brush with the wall on his first run - Alonso and Maldonado, before Button stopped sliding in seventh. Paul di Resta, Schumacher and Nico Rosberg completed the list of those making it through to P3.