In a day that became increasingly overshadowed by the off-track escalation of the war between the FIA and Fota, it almost went unnoticed in many quarters that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominated practice in their revitalised Red Bulls.
Vettel set the fastest lap of the day, 1min 19.400sec, in the morning session, with Webber right on his tail, both expressing great satisfaction with the performance of a heavily upgraded aerodynamic package.
Adrian Sutil in a Force India set the third fastest time overall of 1:20.141 in the afternoon, just faster than Jenson Button's best morning lap in the Brawn of 1:20.227 which was 0.827sec shy of Vettel.
"They're too quick. I think we're going to have trouble this weekend," said Button's boss, the owner of Brawn GP Ross Brawn.
"We tried a few different evaluations with the aero today and initially struggled as I had no grip in either the high- or low-speed corners," Button said afterwards. "The wind also really affected the car's performance today. But we made improvements towards the end of the afternoon session so we have some good information to look at tonight to try and make further progress before qualifying."
Lewis Hamilton spent the day fine-tuning the balance of his McLaren without its KERS system, which is less beneficial here, and working with some minor aerodynamic modifications.
"It's no secret that we're lacking speed in the faster sections," he said. "But the car wasn't too bad today."