With Jarno Trulli ending the opening day's practice firmly ensconced inside the top ten and Timo Glock only just outside of it, Toyota enjoyed a far more promising time in Melbourne practice than many would perhaps have predicted they would.
The big-budget Japanese manufacturer's new TF108 endured a troubled birth during winter testing, but after Trulli set the fastest time of all 19 drivers present on the final group outing in Barcelona ahead of the new season, the squad headed to Australia in rather more buoyant spirits. That optimism seemed to be confirmed by the Italian's omnipresence in the top ten throughout practice en route to seventh spot at the close of play, despite suffering a brief spin along the way.
"It was a difficult day because we have been trying to balance the car while fighting a bit with tyre graining," the 33-year-old mused afterwards. "We tried some things to improve it, but I'm not satisfied with the balance yet. I ended up in the gravel because I touched the grass near the end of the second session.
"Now I just hope we can have a better day [on Saturday]. We've made some good progress over the winter time and the testing we have done in Europe has been positive. The car seems more competitive, especially in race conditions, so I'm optimistic heading into the first grand prix of the season."
F1 returnee Glock was also in confident spirits after winding up twelfth-quickest, out-pointing his more experienced team-mate in the morning session before ultimately finishing just under three tenths of a second adrift on his Albert Park debut.
"This was my first day of running here in Australia and my first free practice session for Toyota," the young German explained, "so it was completely different to what I'm used to in GP2 and testing. It was an unusual situation, but overall it felt ok.
"It was a quiet session but it was a good feeling to be back in the car and not to have the same problems as we had in Barcelona at the last test. We had quite a lot of problems [there]; the tyres did not work, but overall the test was really positive as well with the long runs for Jarno. We had just a little too many problems on my car, but when I started back in the car today it felt much better and I just tried to get up-to-speed and get the car [to] the right balance.
"It is still difficult for me in terms of getting the car right for my driving style, and I still have to learn stuff about the race weekend. The track changes quite a lot, but we are continuously improving so I can start to get a better feeling for the car.
"Jarno has so much experience in the car and he is a hard guy to beat. I will try my best, but I still have to learn more about the team and more about how you set up your car over the weekend. For me it is perfect, because you can just look at what the other guy is doing and you can learn quite a lot from Jarno. He is really good in setting up the car and being really quick for one lap, and it is good to have such a guy on your side."
Though chief race and test engineer Dieter Gass admits Toyota is unlikely to threaten a repeat of the front row starting position the Cologne-based outfit achieved Down Under three years ago courtesy of Trulli, the German nevertheless has high hopes of a strong showing come qualifying.
"Overall it was a positive day for us," Gass reflected, "but the sessions did not go without problems. It was a pity that Jarno spun because he was on a long run and we were collecting tyre data. We also had a problem with a wheel bearing on Timo's car [in the] morning which is why he had to stop slightly early. Still, we can be quite satisfied with how the car behaved.
"It's hard to comment on how the cars line up because, as usual in Melbourne, the circuit was developing throughout the day as rubber went down. People were obviously running on different fuel levels so it will be hard to analyse today's timesheets, but I'm not expecting too many issues with the heat because everyone was prepared for similar conditions in Malaysia next week anyway."