Felipe Massa made a mistake at just the wrong point of Q2 at the Japanese Grand Prix, failing to improve his time and leaving himself open to attack from drivers still on track.
Typically, the Brazilian was made to suffer for his error, as he was gradually pushed down the order and, when Romain Grosjean posted a fast enough time to escape the 'drop zone', it was Massa who fell through the trapdoor, unable to do anything about it.
The Ferrari driver was not alone in being an unexpected name below the fold, as neither Mercedes driver made it through to the pole position shoot-out. While Michael Schumacher, carrying a ten-place grid penalty following his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in Singapore, appeared content just to bed in his remaining sets of new tyres ahead of Sunday's race, team-mate Nico Rosberg simply did not have the speed to progress, leaving him 15th. Schumacher will add ten places to his 13th, dropping him behind the likes of Pedro de la Rosa and Charles Pic.
Paul di Resta was another to be demoted by late improvements, the Scot having earlier had to weave his way through slow traffic on the high-speed run to the final chicane. The Scot will line-up twelfth pending further penalties ahead of him, with Pastor Maldonado - disappointingly for Williams after a strong Q1 showing - and the Toro Rossos or Daniel Ricciardo and Vergne also dropping out at the second hurdle.
Sebastian Vettel returned to the head of the times, with a 1min 31.501secs effort that stands as the best of the weekend, with Jenson Button and Mark Webber joining the German in opting not to return to the track in the final few minutes. Only the Australian was pushed down the order, as Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi all went faster, but still retained his top ten spot, ahead of Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and the impressive Nico Hulkenberg, who hauled his rebuilt Force India into the pole shoot-out.