Valtteri Bottas lost out in an intra-team battle with Williams stable-mate Pastor Maldonado as the local favourite struggled with the pace of opening qualifying at Silverstone.
Once the late starters had posted their laps, the scrap to avoid the drop zone sucked in both Williams drivers. Felipe Massa's minor improvement dropped Maldonado into the bottom six, putting pressure on the Venezuelan's final lap. When he found enough time to scrape into 16th spot, it relegated Bottas, who had only just made his own escape at the expense of Esteban Gutierrez.
With no time to respond, the Finn – who used the rain in Canada to line up third on the grid – was forced to face the reality of joining the usual suspects from Marussia and Caterham in taking an early bath. Subject to penalties elsewhere, Bottas will start Williams' 600th race on the inside of row nine, with Gutierrez heading Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde behind him. The Dutchman wasn't slowest in the session, but faces a five-place penalty carried over from Montreal.
At the front of the field, Mercedes continued its morning dominance, with Lewis Hamilton heading team-mate Nico Rosberg in first and second spot. Kimi Raikkonen, running Lotus' passive DRS system, Romain Grosjean – who isn't in the same spec as his team-mate – and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top five.