Jenson Button's hopes of challenging Red Bull at the front of the grid at the Korean Grand Prix were scuppered by a late yellow flag that forced the Briton to lift off on his final run.
While times around him improving, Button slid down the order, eventually dropping out of the ten progressing to the pole position shoot-out when Kimi Raikkonen bettered his previous best lap. The Briton was out on track at the time, and going for a lap of his own, but Daniel Ricciardo's stranded Toro Rosso - he victim of a gearbox problem - brought out the yellow flags, causing the McLaren to back off and costing it the valuable tenths he needed to move up again. Button also admitted to locking up earlier in the run, not helping his cause.
There are suspicions that other drivers, including Raikkonen and Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean set their best laps without lifting sufficiently past the scene of the yellows, and the order could yet be reshuffled, but with no decisions being made during the session, Button has lost his shot at a decent grid slot.
Before Button's fate was sealed, it appeared that the two Saubers would be the biggest casualties of Q2, with Sergio Perez popping briefly into the top ten before immediately being demoted again, and Suzuka podium hero Kamui Kobayashi not finding enough time to escape the drop zone at all. Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado, Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne completed the list of those taking an early bath.
Sebastian Vettel again led the way at the top of the times, but this time had Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton closer in terms of performance. Mark Webber, Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher all join the top three in the pursuit of pole.