Felipe Massa's hopes of bouncing back from his accident-strewn Monaco weekend took a hit in the second phase of qualifying when another meeting with the barriers ensured that he would not improve on 16th on the Canadian Grand Prix grid.
The Brazilian was already struggling to make headway on a new set of intermediates, twice failing to break out of the bottom six before he locked up approaching turn three and broadsided the barriers.
The incident brought out the red flags, leaving the rest of the field with a shade under two minutes to mount a final attack on the timesheets, with no-one certain of making it through as the conditions continued to change at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Mark Webber led the times at the restart, but was delayed by Jenson Button and failed to make it around his warm-up lap before the chequered flag fell. While the Australian only dropped one spot to Lewis Hamilton, the consequences were worse for Button, who denied himself a chance to improve on his previous best time.
The Briton thus joined Massa, the Saubers of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado's Williams in the drop zone, while the top ten shoot-out featured some unlikely names.
Valtteri Bottas led the way, making Q3 for the first time in his short F1 career, while both Toro Rosso drivers also made the cut, in sixth and tenth respectively.
Hamilton's late flier put him above Webber, with the other RBR entry of Sebastian Vettel sitting third after being called back to the pits in a bid to save his dwindling supply of intermediate tyres for Q3. Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil complete the contenders for pole position.