Romain Grosjean made his return to the GP2 Asia series that he won in 2008, and laid down the gauntlet straight away by becoming the only driver to to dip under the 1m 50s mark on the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The Dams driver was almost half a second faster than the nearest competition, which was Jules Bianchi in the Lotus ART who had opted to sit out the morning session and wait for improved conditions later in the day.
But it was GP2 newcomer Stefano Coletti who put in the most surprising performance of the opening day for Trident, topping the morning's timesheets on a very dusty track and then ending third in the afternoon session's much faster timings despite running only nine laps after lunch.
All 13 teams were present at the test session and all got some runs in. Sam Bird only managed one formation lap in the morning and four laps in the afternoon, but that included briefly topping the timesheets as conditions improved steadily as the day wore on.
Initially the track suffered from the after effects of an overnight sandstorm that caused the organisers to truncate the morning session by half an hour to allow them to spend more time cleaning the surface. The afternoon was then beset by some initial light rain, and it wasn't until later on that drivers were able to set their fastest times as the track dried. The session was extended by an additional hour to allow the teams to get the most testing in the improved conditions.
As a result the morning was more about checking basic set-up and to gather some initial valuable data on the new Dallara chassis rather than set fast times. The afternoon session started slowly because of the rain with only eight cars out in the first hour, including Grosjean, Bianchi and Coloni's Michael Herck.
Bianchi and Grosjean continued to trade fastest laps through the remainder of the day, later joined by Addax's Charles Pic who briefly held second spot and also by Barwa Addax's Giedo van der Garde.
With thirty minutes of the session remaining, Trident's GP3 series graduate Stefano Coletti pushed hard to bring his times down and briefly claimed second place behind Bianchi, before Romain Grosjean came out for his final run of the day and to set an unbeatable 1:49.768 on the chequered flag.
Testing resumes tomorrow, Thursday February 3, commencing at 9am local time.
The full Abu Dhabi test times for February 2
are available in the results section.