The new Pirelli PZero's first foray into F1 competition returned a stunning lap record by world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull's new RB7 blasted round Albert Park at the hands of the German sensation in a breathtaking 1:23.529 on the softer compound to set a new fastest lap in the 15-year history of the Australian Grand Prix.
Question marks had been raised over the durability of the tyres but their one lap pace was evident in qualifying as the top ten all completed their fastest laps on the softer compound.
Qualifying and practice has shown a 0.9 second a lap difference between the hard and soft tyre and the teams are working on tyre management strategies for the race with tyre wear still an unknown.
The tactics employed by various teams, most noticeably Lewis Hamilton and McLaren, to take it slow out of the pit lane rather than a fast outlap is a variation from the past years.
Teams are unsure whether going quick straight from the pitlane will provide heat and grip or conversely, take the edge of new tyres away and reduce performance. This will become apparent as the season unfolds.
Whilst Vettel and the frontrunners appear to have got the best out of the tyres, others have struggled with tyre temperatures and have found themselves well off the pace.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: “We’ve had a thrilling qualifying session and set the quickest lap ever seen here, which has demonstrated the speed and reliability of our PZero tyres on a wide variety of front-running cars.
“Albert Park is well-known as a tricky circuit that does not retain a lot of rubber, but despite the comparatively cool conditions this afternoon all the drivers demonstrated that they were able to make the most of our tyres.
“Now we can look forward to an exciting race tomorrow, in which the weather is bound to play a vital role.”