Heikki Kovalainen completed a flying lap after the chequered flag had fallen on first practice at the Hungaroring to snatch top spot on the timesheets from Williams' Nico Rosberg.
The pair were split by just 0.059secs as Kovalainen confirmed the step forward enjoyed by McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Germany and, with the reigning world champion third fastest in the session, the Woking squad looks set to be a factor again.
Red Bull wasn't far away from the top, with German GP winner Mark Webber fourth fastest after topping the times through the middle of the session, but both Sebastian Vettel and the two Brawn drivers appeared content to work on their weekend programmes as they languished further down the order. Points leader Jenson Button was the best of the bunch, in tenth, with team-mate Rubens Barrichello 13th and Vettel 15th, the German complaining that he was struggling for grip.
Vettel should have known better, however, for the Hungaroring proved to be its usual awkward self despite supporting series having already attempted to clean the track surface. More than one driver found traction at a premium, with Rosberg, Williams team-mate Kazuki Nakajima and Ferrari's Felipe Massa all taking to the grass, as the first F1 rubber of the weekend began to go down.
Behind Webber, Nakajima completed the top five, with Jarno Trulli, Kimi Raikkonen, Massa, Fernando Alonso and Button rounding out the top ten. Despite apprehension from some quarters, debutant Jaime Alguersuari acquitted himself well, despite bringing up the rear. The Spaniard completed a series of slow installation laps as he re-acquainted himself with the Hungaroring, but ended the session just 1.9secs from Kovalainen's pace after 42 laps of experience gathering, with Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Buemi only a couple of tenths better off.