Michael Schumacher rolled back the years Friday as he ended a day's practice on top for the first time since returning from retirement in 2010, ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The seven-time champion, 43, clocked a best lap of one minute and 29.183 seconds in his Mercedes in the final minute of a dramatic day's action at rain-hit Albert Park.
The lap lifted him ahead of fellow German Nico Hulkenberg by one-tenth of a second, the Mercedes-powered Force India driver having been on top for most of a closely-fought final 10 minutes.
Two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel was left way down in 10th after many drivers switched to faster, soft tyres in the last minutes as the track finally dried.
It was the first time Schumacher had finished a practice day on top of the standings since he ended his retirement. He was quickest in morning practice at Belgium last year, before being overhauled in the later session.
Button sets pace in opening session
Jenson Button led a McLaren one-two as the British team eclipsed their rivals in opening practice with a time of one minute and 27.560 seconds. The session started off wet before a dry-line appeared about halfay into the session.