Jenson Button's hopes of finally cracking the British Grand Prix podium took a hit as he failed to progress beyond the second phase of knock-out qualifying at Silverstone.
The Briton clung to a tenuous tenth spot for a short period, only to be demoted by Kimi Raikkonen's late improvement and there was no time for the McLaren man to respond as the MP4-28 continued to struggle for pace. With team-mate Sergio Perez already condemned to 14th spot, the Woking team will again be playing catch up on Sunday afternoon.
It wasn't only McLaren in the mire, however, as Lotus only escaped by the skin of its teeth, getting both Romain Grosjean and Raikkonen into ninth and tenth, while Felipe Massa failed to improve enough to join Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in the pole position shoot-out.
The Brazilian will share row six with Button, while Perez lines up on the outside of Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman ruing running wide at Becketts and compromising what would likely have been a top ten lap. With Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo making the cut, it was a costly error from Vergne.
The other two casualties of the 15-minute session were, as expected based on Q1 performance, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado, with the German snatching the inside of row eight with his last lap of the day.
At the front, Red Bull turned the tables on Mercedes, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber recording the two fastest times to set up an intriguing pole battle with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.