Jenson Button backed up his pre-season promise by setting the fastest time in practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix today.
The Englishman was quiet when practice began yesterday but he showed why Honda are regarded as a serious threat this season with a last-minute effort to top the timing sheets.
His lap of one minute 31.857 seconds capped an exciting end to the session and was just 0.011secs faster than Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.
World champion Fernando Alonso was on the pace in the final session before qualifying, claiming third spot, only 0.118secs down on Button.
The Spaniard’s Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth with Ferrari debutant Felipe Massa sixth.
Scotland’s David Coulthard continued to struggle for Red Bull after a torrid winter’s testing. He ended up 14th.
The session started slowly, with only Super Aguri rookie Yuji Ide setting a time in the first 15 minutes.
Ide, a Formula Nippon veteran from Japan, took the opportunity to rack up several laps as Super Aguri prepare for their debut season.
But his progess was checked by a mechanical problem halfway into the session which left his car stranded on the pit lane exit.
Christijan Albers pushed too hard on his Midland debut and spun at turn one with seven minutes left before a late scramble to set a fast lap.
Alonso, Schumacher and Button all took their turn at the top but Massa’s bid ended in a spin and Scott Speed’s Scuderia Toro Rosso car ground to a halt in the dying seconds.