Off-throttle blown diffuser ban or not, Red Bull Racing had the 1-2 in qualifying for the British GP with Mark Webber on pole.
In tricky conditions with the track mainly dry but wet in a few places, Webber put the diffuser row, which Christian Horner says will "disadvantage" his team, to the back of his mind.
The Aussie crossed the line with a 1:30.399 to beat his team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.032s.Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were next in line, ahead of British pair Jenson Button and Paul di Resta.
It was warm with grey skies and rain expected at Silverstone with an ambient temperature of 20C and 24C on the track. Much of the morning had been spent on the politics of engine management and what teams were and were not allowed to do with their exhaust gases.
There was the threat of a rain shower early in Q1 and so when the light at the end of the pitlane turned green, all 24 cars flooded out onto the track. The prophecy proved correct as light rain started to fall in Copse after four minutes.
The front-runners were still on the hard Prime tyre while the teams at the back of the grid went straight to soft tyres. Everyone was fuelled for multiple laps waiting for the track to rubber in and gaps to appear.
Fernando Alonso set the first significant pole at 1:33.741. As the damp circuit dried out times began to fall, Sebastian Vettel reduced it to 1:33.555, Rubens Barrichello edged it down to 1:33.532.
Cars were still struggling to find a dry line and Fernando Alonso had an almost session-ending incident going straight off the road under braking into the gravel at the outside of Brooklands. He had to rallycross his Ferrari 150 over the rough ground near the barrier, collecting gravel in the process but carrying on regardless.
At the front Mark Webber put in a 1:33.044 to take P1 before the impressive Pastor Maldonado reduced P1 to 1:32.702. A lap later and the position was Mark's again with a 1:32.670.
With seven minutes of the session left to run, the spits and spots of rain changed into something more substantial and the circuit became thoroughly soaked. At which point it was quite clear no-one was going to go faster and everyone returned to the pits while the clock ticked down.
It was the Toro Rossos that had been caught out by the rain, both Buemi and Alguersuari exiting in Q1. The last seven were:
18.Alguersuari, 19.Buemi, 20.Glock, 21.Trulli, 22.D'Ambrosio, 23.Liuzzi, 24.Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo had been bought a seat in the HRT car by Red Bull for the rest of the season but there was no miracle debut for the Australian. However Heikki Kovalainen had squeezed himself into Q2, finishing in P16 ahead of the struggling Nick Heidfeld.
It had rained so much at the end of Q1 that some teams went out on Inters at the start of Q2, whereas the mid-grid teams decided to risk it on the soft Option tyres straight away.
The two Mercedes cars were straight out on inters, but Rosberg didn't set a time on them deciding to return to the pits. The Mclarens set a time on them but it was well off the pace. They opted for one final stint of three laps on the soft Option tyre.
Rubens Barrichello set P1 with a 1:39.208 followed by team-mate Pastor Maldonado with a 1:37.703. Barrichello then reduced it to a 1:36.408. Rubens's problem was that he had set his lap too early and later Michael Schumacher would bemoan the same fact - he had used up the best of his tyres when the track was slow. It got quicker and quicker.
Kobayashi reduced P1 to 1:35.896, then Mark Webber took it to 1:35.098 and then Adrian Sutil took it on with a 1:34.872.
With four minutes of the session left to run the timesheets looked very unusual. The danger positions were: 10.Vettel, 11.Button, 12.Schumacher, 13.Hamilton, 14.Rosberg, 15.Kovalainen, 16.Massa, 17.DiResta.
Alonso made himself supersafe with a 1:31.640 to take P1, Lewis Hamilton jumped to P2, Michael Schumacher grabbed P3, Sebastian Vettel took P2, Button went up to P5, Nick Heidfeld up to P7. To emphasize how quickly the track was drying Pastor Maldonado then set P4.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa not only made himself safe he took P1 with a 1:31.640. Mark Webber slotted into P2 and then Force India's Paul diResta staked his claim with a P6. Di Resta's lap pushed Jenson Button to P9 and with 51 seconds of the session remaining the Brit has been pushed to P10. It got worse. On Button's final lap he found himself in P14 before crossing the line to take P4 and pushing Adrian Sutil from P10 to P11.
It had been a frantic final five minutes but as the times were analyzed it turned out there was an incredible concentration of drivers covered by .4 of a second. Button had finished in P4 with a 1:32.273 while Michael Schumacher was P13 with a 1:32.656.
So out went: 11.Sutil, 12.Perez, 13.Schumacher, 14.Petrov, 15.Barrichello, 16.Heidfeld, 17.Kovalainen.
Both Renaults had performed dismally, whereas Maldonado, DiResta and Kobayashi had all got into Q3 with their team-mates missing out.
Rain was expected towards the end of the session so everyone was out early for the first of two-timed runs. Sebastian Vettel set provisional pole at 1:30.431 but it was Mark Webber in the faster Red Bull at 1:30.399.
Lewis Hamilton had a terrible lap two seconds behind the Red Bulls and as each driver crossed the line, they relegated him one place further until Hamilton's P3 became P10.
So at the end of the first runs it was Webber, Vettel, Alonso (only a tenth off), Massa, Button, Di Resta, Maldonado, Kobayashi, Rosberg and Hamilton. Button and Rosberg emerged for their second runs just as it was beginning to spit with rain again.
Button started his lap but soon abandoned it. Behind him, Nico Rosberg had much more to gain and continued on, and although he set Personal Best sector times, he had to cope with a lurid moment coming out of Becketts onto the Hangar Straight and going down into Vale. He abandoned his lap and came in the pits.
Thus the grid had already been set on the first runs. Mark Webber had finally got the better of Sebastian Vettel amidst rumours that the new exhaust regulations better suited the Aussie driver.
As for a change of Front Row, the new regulations had failed to upset the established order, although Ferrari were a lot closer to Red Bull than before and McLaren were a lot further off. The performance of the day came from Paul diResta qualifying in a spectacular P6 at his home grand prix for Force India.
01. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m30.399
02. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m30.431 + 0.032
03. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.516 + 0.117
04. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m31.124 + 0.725
05. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m31.989 + 1.490
06. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m31.929 + 1.530
07. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m31.933 + 1.534
08. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.128 + 1.729
09. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.209 + 1.810
10. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.376 + 1.977
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m32.617 + 0.977
12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m32.624 + 0.984
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m32.656 + 1.016
14. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m32.734 + 1.094
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m33.119 + 1.479
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m33.805 + 2.165
17. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m34.821 + 3.181
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.245 + 2.575
19. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.749 + 3.079
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m36.203 + 3.533
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m36.456 + 3.786
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m37.154 + 4.484
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m37.484 + 4.814
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m38.059 + 5.389