McLaren saw both its cars bow out of qualifying at the second hurdle in Brazil, but had greater concerns as Sergio Perez ended the session in the wall at turn five of the Interlagos circuit.
Despite having earlier shown flashes of promise in the tricky conditions, Perez and Jenson Button found it impossible to escape from the bottom six in Q2, with the Mexican having just got the better of his team-mate at the time of his accident. He will start his final race for the Woking team from 14th on the grid, with Button 15th and ahead only on Force India's Adrian Sutil.
It was a frustrating session for the Silverstone-based team too, with Paul di Resta helping sandwich the two McLarens having, like Button, got as high as eleventh and just a whisker from making the cut. Valtteri Bottas will also start behind di Resta, having fallen out of the top ten, unable to repeat his heroics in similar conditions in Montreal.
Heikki Kovalainen completes the non-qualifiers, having been pushed out of the top ten by Daniel Ricciardo's improvement just a few minutes from the end. The Finn made a couple of attempts at recovering his position, but came up a tenth short.
Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean led the way, denying Sebastian Vettel a first top spot of the weekend with a late lap of his own, but the pair will have to do it all again – and in likely worse conditions – along with Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne, whose late escape from Q1 has now been rewarded with a place in the pole position shoot-out.