McLaren's late nights and head-scratching prior to leaving for the Australian Grand Prix appears to have paid off as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton ensured that the Woking team ended day one of the meeting at the top of the timesheets.
Although the Britons will be the first to acknowledge that little can be read into Friday practice times, they will no doubt be delighted to see that the MP4-26 seems to be more of a competitive prospect that it showed in pre-season testing, having also finished sixth and seventh in the morning session. Both drivers went straight to the front of the field in the second 90-minute session at Albert Park and, despite being usurped from time to time, always managed to bounce back. Button eventually claimed top spot with a time of 1min 25.854secs, allowing him to edge his team-mate by a little over a tenth.
The two McLarens kept Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in third spot, just as he had been in session one, when Red Bull claimed the top two spots. The Spaniard improved his time by 1.7secs, and moved ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, as RBR had to settle for fourth and fifth. The Milton Keynes team, however, appeared to be working on race strategies and may not have shown its true potential as the track picked up pace. Vettel found just over a second, while Webber, who had topped the session one times, gained 'just' 0.6secs.
Michael Schumacher was among those to share time in P1 with the McLarens, but the German ultimately had to settle for sixth spot, 0.7secs off Button's benchmark. That put the WO2 pilot ahead of former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, while Sergio Perez, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten. Perez, in particular, underlined his potential in the Sauber, while Barrichello maintained Williams' promising start to the season.
Jaime Alguersuari was next up, repeating Toro Rosso's pre-season promise despite having to sit out the opening session in favour of reserve Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard was a tenth quicker than STR team-mate Sebastien Buemi, but the pair found Renault duo Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld slipping between them in the final order.
Further back, there was good news for Force India rookie Paul di Resta as he edged team-mate Adrian Sutil, again after sitting out the opening 90 minutes of running, while Jarno Trulli showed that he had suffered little from missing the opening session - and seeing his car stuck in the wall by Karun Chandhok - and he all but matched Team Lotus colleague Heikki Kovalainen for pace.
The two green-and-yellow cars were a little further from the midfield than had been expected, but were comfortably two seconds ahead of fellow 2010 newcomer Marussia Virgin, where debutant Jerome d'Ambrosio again out-paced veteran Timo Glock.
Right at the back, HRT finally got its F111 on track after missing pre-season testing and the opening session in Melbourne, as Vitantonio Liuzzi completed a solitary installation lap just as rain began to fall over the chequered flag in Melbourne.