Valtteri Bottas put together the perfect lap in Q3 at Hockenheim on Saturday, but still wasn't able to get the better of Nico Rosberg.
The Finn gave Rosberg a good run for his money in all three qualifying sessions, but he will start the German Grand Prix in P2 as his 1:16.759 was 0.219s off the pace of the Mercedes man.
The other Williams of Felipe Massa will start third.
Although happy with the performance of the FW36, Bottas admits they were always going to struggle to catch the Mercedes of Rosberg.
"We must be really happy with the result today as a team - second and third - so well done to everyone," he said.
"But yeah I think Mercedes is still ahead. The lap I had had no mistakes. It was a really nice lap so I really felt I got everything out of the car today."