With a powerful final lap of the day, Mark Webber took pole position at the Nürburgring ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel could qualify no higher than third after Hamilton drove a flawless lap. The McLaren man raised his performance significantly on the three practice sessions, posting one quality lap after another.
Meanwhile, Vettel looked out of sorts by comparison with his usual qualifying form. Alongside Vettel on row two will be Fernando Alonso. With only four tenths of a second separating first and fourth, the situation is very tight at the top.
From P5 onwards, it is almost like a different league. Felipe Massa was nine-tenths adrift of Webber, while Nico Rosberg in sixth was 1.2 seconds off the pace. The remaining Top 10 places were booked by Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher.+
Schumacher had a real fight on his hands to make it through to Q3, as his car seemed twitchy and constantly in danger of taking him off track.
Q2: Petrov poops home race party
In the second segment of qualifying, it was looking as if all the German drivers would be going through to the Top 10 shootout. But right at the last moment, Nick Heidfeld suffered the heartbreak of seeing his team-mate Petrov bump him down into eleventh.
Also failing to make the cut were Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado, Rubens Barrichello, Sergio Perez, Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.
Q1: Kobayashi eliminated with the new boys
The first round of qualifying threw up a couple of surprises, one being that some drivers used up more soft tyres than was really necessary, for example Massa and Sutil who could just as easily have got by on primes. But they weren't taking any chances.
The big loser amongst the established teams was Kamui Kobayashi who was knocked out with the newcomers this time. The Japanese driver qualified 18th, only just inside the drop zone.
Lining up behind the Sauber man tomorrow will be Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Karun Chandhok, Jerome D'Ambrosio, Tonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo at least made good on his target of closing the gap on Liuzzi, qualifying only 25 thousandths slower than his team-mate. As the Italian takes a five-place grid penalty for a change of gearbox, Ricciardo will now start ahead of Liuzzi.