A winter of worry and wait evaporated into the breeze as F1 arrived blinking into the sun - and reverted comfortably back to type by indulging in a series of rows.
First, a warm-up row about money between the teams and Bernie, followed by a nice meaty technical one about diffusers and holes therein. Before a car had turned a wheel it was clear the season was finally underway.
A prism through which to see the diffuser controversy is, of course, the battle for control of F1 between the FIA/CVC on one hand and FOTA - or SCHMOTA as Bernie likes to call the team body that he in fact founded but which then veered out of his control - on the other. Divide and conquer, leave a technical rule vague enough to encourage different interpretations, thereby encouraging the teams to squabble among themselves, thereby breaking their unity and thus their negotiating power.
It's a pretty shrewd ruse, but it's not like the teams don't realise it's a ruse - and yet they still can't help but squabble. It's about how it's just not possible for any competitive person to subsume competitive will for the common good. So the teams of FOTA's president and commercial director protested the teams of FOTA's technical director and deputy president. Max Mosley doubtless allowed himself a little giggle of delight.
But the whole drama is part of F1. To think of it as negative or somehow embarrassing for the sport is to misunderstand the multi-faceted nature of the sport. Having very clever minds trying to push the limits of what is allowed and others being brassed off that they didn't think to do it first has always been very much part of it, just as surely as power-plays over money and the controversy that inevitably follows.
One leading engineer from one of the three protested teams said: "They say what we've done with the diffuser is against the spirit of the regulations. I'd argue that being fucking thick is against the spirit of F1! Why not throw them out on those grounds? F1 has always been - and should always be - about clever people beating thick people!"
The technical issue behind all the fuss was arguably quite arcane. But there's arcane to a casual follower and there's the realisation of anyone who really cares that as much as half a second per lap of performance is in no way arcane. A new set of rules, a new set of requirements: all these brilliant minds let loose on them - and some have come up with better solutions than others. It's a process that's left the mighty McLaren down near the back, the former Honda backmarker team at the front, utterly compelling in its topsy-turviness.
McLaren was notably quiet on diffusers, and it was clear that its problems ran deeper. The Red Bull, after all, has a similar diffuser to the McLaren and was around 0.7s per lap quicker around Melbourne. One rival engineer believes he can see what the McLaren's problem is - but obviously isn't about to spill the beans.
"There are a couple of cars, and the McLaren is one of them, that in their treatment of one fundamental part of the airflow regime show that their aerodynamicists have come to the fore during the era that's just finished, where gains were made in incremental changes.
"If they had experience of the previous generation of cars they would have known immediately how to treat one particular area that is probably even more important than the diffuser under these regs."
It's something he reckons could be cured very quickly once recognised and is not a fundamental part of a car's design. So don't expect the McLaren to be bad indefinitely. The penny will be sure to drop - there are plenty of clever people there.
Meantime the Brawn, the car conceived by the clever ex-Super Aguri team of aerodynamicists, is making hay.
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