As expected, it was a McLaren that led the way in the first session, as Jenson Button set the pace.
Less predictably, a Red Bull pushed him hard. Despite suggestions - largely from the team itself - that this would be the title-chasing squad's worst weekend of the year, Sebastian Vettel got off to a bright start with second, 0.097 seconds behind Button and ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren.
Robert Kubica (Renault) and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) completed the top five.
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Matt Beer started freelancing for Autosport.com in the first week of its existence in 1999, and spent the next decade-and-a-half dovetailing increasing amounts of time contributing to it with UK national reporting, driver and team PR, freelance for organisations including ITV, BMW, Autocourse and the FIA Institute and a parallel career co-managing award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatres.
He stopped being stubborn and became Autosport.com's deputy editor in April 2014. Matt also oversees Haymarket's talent development programme for emerging motorsport writers and escapes to cover Formula Ford 1600 races whenever possible.