Pastor Maldonado was the surprise pace-setter in Friday's first practice in Valencia, a session that saw the top nine separated by less than three-tenths.
With the temperatures not as hot as expected, the track very slippery and the wind gusting, the Toro Rosso drivers got proceedings underway with Jean-Eric Vergne clocking a 1:45.619.
He lowered the benchmark to a 1:42 while Daniel Ricciardo was second and Valtteri Bottas third. They were, however, the only three drivers to set lap times in the first 30 minutes.
Kimi Raikkonen was the next to lead the way with a 1:42.589 before he was overhauled by his Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean. The duo traded fastest times before Nico Rosberg leapt to the front with a 1:41.182.
But halfway though the session only 14 drivers had set times with the two McLarens, the two Red Bulls and Fernando Alonso amongst those who yet to get down to business.
It was shortly after that the five set their first lap times of the morning, none able to challenge at the very front though. Pastor Maldonado was the next into the P1 slot with a 1:40.890 ahead of Rosberg, Michael Schumacher and Alonso.
The Ferrari driver improved to second before being dropped by Lewis Hamilton only to take it back moments later. Sebastian Vettel joined the tussle, the next to take P2. None of the Champions, though, were able to challenge Maldonado, who led the way into the final 30 minutes.
That final stint started with more of the same although this time it was Mark Webber who challenged for the lead and fell short, 0.094s down on the Williams driver. Jenson Button, despite his KERS issues, climbed to third.
Vettel improved to second in the final few minutes, only 0.083s down on Maldonado. His next lap was ruined by a lock-up but it wasn't nearly even as bad as Schumacher's. He locked up on one lap, had a slide on the next, and another lock-up on the next, which saw him almost hit the barrier of the run-off area.
The session ended with Maldonado in the P1 slot ahead of Vettel and Webber.
01 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:40.890 22 laps
02 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.973 0.083 21 laps
03 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:40.984 0.094 19 laps
04 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.994 0.104 19 laps
05 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:41.065 0.175 26 laps
06 Paul di Resta Force India 1:41.105 0.215 15 laps
07 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:41.117 0.227 22 laps
08 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:41.158 0.268 18 laps
09 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.182 0.292 21 laps
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:41.620 0.730 21 laps
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.784 0.894 15 laps
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:41.838 0.948 19 laps
13 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:41.861 0.971 16 laps
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:42.109 1.219 20 laps
15 Jules Bianchi Force India 1:42.175 1.285 21 laps
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.299 1.409 24 laps
17 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:42.442 1.552 26 laps
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:42.758 1.868 26 laps
19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:42.777 1.887 28 laps
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1:43.209 2.319 19 laps
21 Charles Pic Marussia 1:44.173 3.283 18 laps
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1:44.996 4.106 15 laps
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:45.120 4.230 23 laps
24 Timo Glock Marussia 1:45.338 4.448 7 laps