Mark Webber pulled another one back on Sebastian Vettel when he took pole position at his team-mate's home race.
The Aussie, who has just two pole positions to his tally this season, crossed the line with a 1:30.079 at the Nurburgring, the track where he claimed his first-ever F1 pole position and race victory.
His time put him 0.065s ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who fought back from Friday's woes to book himself a place on the front row of the grid.
Vettel will line-up in third place, 0.137s behind his team-mate ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who qualified in fourth place, more than half a second quicker than his team-mate Felipe Massa.
Nico Rosberg was sixth fastest, ahead of Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil.
The skies were dark and overcast at the Nurburgring as qualifying commenced for the German Grand Prix. The ambient temperature was the coolest of the year at just 14C with the track at 22C. There was no rain expected during Q1, at least.
Pastor Maldonado produced the first meaningful P1 time in his Williams with a 1:37.966 which was immediately beaten by Nick Heidfeld with a 1:36.098 for Renault. The mid-grid teams decided to see if it was possible to get a good time on the harder Prime tyre (Pirelli's Medium) and so were putting in a series of laps to warm them up.
Michael Schumacher improved P1 to 1:35.368, before Jaime Alguersuari decided to up the ante by switching to the yellow-walled Option tyre (Pirelli's Soft) and took P1 with a 1:34.187. Mark Webber claimed it with a 1:34.084 on the Prime still. Lewis Hamilton, with an oversteery lap tucked up behind the Virgin at the end, blitzed it on Primes with a 1:32.934. A few laps later Fernando Alonso edged ahead of him with a 1:32.916.
Going into the final four minutes, the danger positions were: 14.Sutil, 15.Heidfeld, 16.DiResta, 17.Maldonado, 18.Kovalainen, 19.Barrichello, 20.Glock. For those who hadn't gone to the soft tyre early - now was the time.
Maldonado showed what was possible by jumping to P4, Nick Heidfeld was so quick he set the P1 time at 1:32.505, Rubens Barrichello jumped to a far from convincing P12.
This left Buemi in 16th, Rosberg in 17th and Paul DiResta in 18th. DiResta grabbed P5, Buemi scrambled forward to P14 and Nico Rosberg made himself safe in P6. This pushed Kamui Kobayashi - who had already returned to the pits - into P18 and out.
Felipe Massa had felt unsafe in the order and gone out on a set of soft tyres to make sure of his participation in Q2. He set the final P1 time with a 1:31.826
There was competition amongst the newbies as well with Karun Chandhok getting a one-off drive for Team Lotus and trailing behind the Virgin cars till the end of the session when he jumped to 20th. In the final seconds of the session Timo Glock squeezed back past him. Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo showed his intentions by getting very close to Tinio Liuzzi's Q1 time.
So out went: 18.Kobayashi, 19.Kovalainen, 20.Glock, 21.Chandhok, 22.D'Ambrosio, 23.Liuzzi, 24.Ricciardo
The rain held off in Q2, as all the cars went straight to the soft tyres. Felipe Massa set the first meaningful time with a 1:31.792 - very likely on the set he'd just used, and quicker too. Team-mate Alonso improved that to a 1:31.150
It was Lewis Hamilton who was the man to watch, setting the fastest first sector and the first sub-1:31 lap at 1:30.998. The oversteer of his first stint seemed to have disappeared. Vettel could only put in the P2 time in response.
With five minutes left Sebastian Buemi and Pastor Maldonado had yet to emerge on track, but the danger positions were: 7.Rosberg, 8.Heidfeld, 9.Petrov, 10.Schumacher, 11.Sutil, 12.Perez, 13.Barrichello, 14.DiResta, 15.Alguersuari.
Everyone from Rosberg down came out onto the track. Buemi made his one effort to finish P14. Maldonado jumped to P9 pushing Schumi to P11. Paul DiResta took over P9 pushing him down to P12. Michael hadn't finished, though and jumped up to P8, while Force India's Adrian Sutil grabbed P7.
Nick Heidfeld was now P10 and could only stay P10 before team-mate Vitaly Petrov put his Renault in P8 eliminating him from the session.
So out went: 11.Heidfeld, 12.DiResta, 13.Maldonado, 14.Barrichello, 15.Perez, 16.Buemi, 17.Alguersuari
Still no rain despite the threatening skies and Alonso was out early to set provisional pole at 1:30.866 (faster that Lewis in Q2). Lewis responded with a 1:30.725 to snatch provisional pole back off him.
Meanwhile Mark Webber was turning the timing screens to purple with an emphatic lap of 1:30.251, a half a second up on the McLaren which would surely be hard to find...? Team-mate Vettel could only manage P2.
After the first runs the order was: Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Button, Petrov - with Rosberg, Schumacher and Sutil choosing to do one run only. Rosberg and Schumacher did a lap to get their tyres up to temperature before going for it.
Into the final runs for the front runners and Mark Webber set the fastest first sector time, and then was beaten by Lewis Hamilton with a 27.7. Fernando flashed across the line and took P3 off Hamilton, Webber improved his pole time to 1:30.079 before Hamilton got very very close with a stellar 1:30.134 that put him in P2. Lewis described it as the most perfect lap.
Sebastian Vettel could only manage P3 relegating Alonso back down to P4 with Massa a half a second shy of his team-mate and Jenson Button a whole second behind his (and behind Nico Rosberg to boot). Adrian Sutil, Vitaly Petrov and a disappointing Michael Schumacher rounded out the top 10. With rain expected tomorrow the grid positions could mean very little, but Mclaren will get a tremendous boost from splitting the Red Bulls and jumping ahead of Ferrari.
1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:30.079
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.134 + 0.055
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:30.216 + 0.137
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:30.442 + 0.363
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:30.910 + 0.831
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.263 + 1.184
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.288 + 1.209
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.010 + 1.931
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:32.187 + 2.108
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:32.482 + 2.403
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:32.215 + 1.217
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.560 + 1.562
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:32.635 + 1.637
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:33.043 + 2.045
15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.176 + 2.178
16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.546 + 2.548
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.698 + 2.700
18. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.786 + 1.960
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:35.599 + 3.773
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.400 + 4.574
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1:36.422 + 4.596
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.641 + 4.815
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:37.011 + 5.185
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:37.036 + 5.210