Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) topped the field, locking down the front row of the European Grand Prix, held in Valencia.
Pastor Maldonado (Williams), he who took pole of Barcelona's Spanish Grand Grand, looked set for another first place start on a Spanish track, until Vettel turned on the heat, clocking a laps four tenths quicker than what Maldonado had managed.
Hamilton then squeezed through to split the two men.
Q2 claimed several high-profile victims: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and Mark Webber (Red Bull); the field being so evenly matched.
The top 13 cars were separated only by three tenths.
Alonso, Schumacher and Massa all missed out on Q3 by less than 0.1s.
Their misfortunes allowed Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta (Force India) as well as Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) into the top 10.
Performances were uneven between many teammates. Jenson Button only qualified ninth, where Hamilton sits on the front row. At Williams, Bruno Senna could only manage 14th and Sergio Perez 15th at Sauber. But the teammate out-shined the most by his teammate was Webber.
The Australian was left a distant 19th.
At the back of the grid, Timo Glock (Marussia) had to give up qualifying altogether because of illness. No word yet on whether or not he will be fit enough to take part in the race.
Qualifying results – European Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8-Renault) - 1min38.086s - Q3
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4/27-Mercedes) - 1min38.410s - Q3
3. Pastor Maldonado (Williams FW34-Renault) - 1min38.475s - Q3
4. Romain Grosjean (Lotus E20-Renault) - 1min38.505s - Q3
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus E20-Renault) - 1min38.513s - Q3
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes MGP W03) - 1min38.623s - Q3
7. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber C31-Ferrari) - 1min38.741s - Q3
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India VJM05-Mercedes) - 1min38.752s - Q3
9. Jenson Button (McLaren MP4/27-Mercedes) - 1min38.801s - Q3
10. Paul Di Resta (Force India VJM05-Mercedes) - 1min38.992s - Q3
11. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F2012) - 1min38.707s - Q2
12. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes MGP W03) - 1min38.77s0 - Q2
13. Felipe Massa (Ferrari F2012) - 1min38.780s - Q2
14. Bruno Senna (Williams FW34-Renault) - 1min39.207s - Q2
15. Sergio Perez (Sauber C31-Ferrari) - 1min39.358s - Q2
16. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham CT01-Renault) - 1min40.295s - Q2
17. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso STR7-Ferrari) - 1min40.358s - Q2
18. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso STR7-Ferrari) - 1min40.203s - Q1
19. Mark Webber (Red Bull RB8-Renault) - 1min40.395s - Q1
20. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham CT01-Renault) - 1min40.457s - Q1
21. Pedro De La Rosa (HRT F112-Cosworth) - 1min42.171s - Q1
22. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT F112-Cosworth) - 1min42.527s - Q1
23. Charles Pic (Marussia MRO1-Cosworth) - 1min42.675s - Q1
24. Timo Glock (Marussia MR01-Cosworth) - no time - Q1