Looking back on it now the signs were always there. Red Bull first and second fastest with a comfortable cushion to the next fastest car - Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. But it was Mark Webber that was quickest, some 0.327s faster than the world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The two RB7s looked easily the most comfortable machines on the green Albert Park layout, which seemed fairly resistant to rubbering in - a feature of Pirelli's new tyres. Behind the Red Bulls, things were less predictable. Alonso and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes were next up, followed by Rubens Barrichello's Williams. Then a somewhat surprising development... in the days between the final test and arriving in Melbourne McLaren had fixed the troublesome MP4-26. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were suddenly in the mix.
That's more than could be said for HRT, which rather calamitously failed to take to the track at all. Its drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan, India's returning 33-year-old, watched on disconsolately as the team repeated its opening day behaviour from 2010 and built a car in front of the watching world.
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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.