Conditions at Silverstone for the afternoon qualifying session were still very wet, but not as bad as they had been for the midday practice session. That meant that the Pirelli wet tyres could do their job and start removing large quantities of water from the racing line as the session went on.
Davide Valsecchi (DAMS) was the first man to set a fast time but was sooner bettered by the likes of Esteban Gutiérrez (Lotus GP), Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) and Fabio Leimer (Racing Engineering). Valsecchi was able to improve next time around and held provisional pole for a time.
But as the midpoint of the 30 minute session ticked past, it was Leimer who was notably managing to continually drive the pole time down by massive chunks with every effort. By the time the drivers started to come in for their mid-session break, Leimer had set a seemingly unassailable 2:01.889s almost a full second ahead of Barwa Addax's Johnny Cecotto Jr., Lotus GP's James Calado and Arden's Luiz Razia.
With just over ten minutes remaining, a red flag for Cecotto and iSport's Marcus Ericsson both coming to a stop out on track made the midsession break official. Unlike in practice, the clock was stopped for the hiatus, leaving everyone with a chance to regroup and still get back out on track in time for new qualifying runs, with the rain seemingly having come to a stop at last.
Gutiérrez led the field back out once the track reopened but could do little despite the clear air and visibility, while further back Coloni's Stefano Coletti improved to fourth place ahead of Razia. Further attempts by drivers to improve their times were temporarily stymied by Davide Valsecchi's car giving up the ghost on the entry into Club, but after the yellow flags were withdrawn for that incident Jolyon Palmer managed to vault the iSport into third, Coletti into fourth and Gutiérrez pipped his team mate Calado for fifth.
Calado's Valencia nemesis Rio Haryanto put in the seventh fastest time of the session in the Carlin, but he will be demoted five spots on the grid because of the penalty he incurred last time out for crashing into Calado in the final laps of the sprint race.
More stoppages on track by Felipe Nasr (in the DAMS) and Fabio Onidi (Coloni) brought out more yellow flags and thwarted any further qualifying runs, and raised the possibility of the cars either suffering from water in the electronics or else the cars getting so cold that it was tripping them into a safety cut-off.
All cars were able to set a time within the 107% cut off.
Full qualifying times/feature race starting grid
Full Friday morning practice times