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.