Lewis Hamilton's testing season received a timely boost as he clocked the quickest lap of the first practice session in his fast-improving McLaren.
The world champion, just 10th in this year's drivers' championship, recorded a time of one minute 33.647 seconds early on in the dry heat of Bahrain.
BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, both also running with power boost systems, came second and third.
Brawn GP's championship leader Jenson Button came through in fifth.
Little, in truth, can be truly drawn from a session in which the dramas of the 2009 season did not flare up - and practice is rarely genuinely indicative of what will happen in qualifying or the race itself.
But Hamilton and his McLaren team are likely to be pleased that their car is showing further signs of life as they continue to recover from a disastrous start to the season.
The 24-year-old English driver again ran with an updated diffuser, although not with the new front wing he used in China to finish sixth, and was 0.260 seconds ahead of Germany's Heidfeld.
Hamilton also finished quickest in the first practice session ahead of the Shanghai race but was then overshadowed in the second session.
Practice in Bahrain did give drivers a chance to test its desert conditions after two races, in Malaysia and then China, in the wet. BBC Sport Report..
Well thats a bit of an upset...even though as they say, its still too early to establish an idea of the race.
Button 5th, chances are hell still start the race on the top 2 rows... Hamilton will probably have another upset, but claw it bck in the race.
Alls looking good.. bet Mclaren are happy now