Just as they did in first free practice for the Australian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima stole the top spots in the dying seconds of the opening session in Malaysia.
The Williams drivers waited until the very last lap of the hot and humid 90 minutes to deny the Brawns of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello from continuing their dominance of Melbourne.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were fifth and sixth, but there was a late scare for the Finn when his cockpit extinguisher fired halfway down the back-straight - it is not known whether this was related to the car's KERS system or not.
As in Australia, there was a lull of 20 minutes before anyone bothered to start lapping sensibly.
But when they did, it was Raikkonen that got the ball rolling, running timed laps immediately after his installation lap.
The Finn's initial mark was almost immediately eclipsed by Nakajima's Williams, and the two traded times at the top until Massa beat them both with a 1:37.343 after 40 minutes.
Not wishing to miss out, Rosberg, the star of Melbourne free practice, immediately replaced Massa at the top, but by this stage Button was out on track and hunting down the German's time.
Button's first attempt was 0.16 seconds shy of Rosberg, but by the hour mark he was on top with a lap of 1:36.676. He improved that to a 1:36.430, which looked good enough to give him the top spot until Williams denied him late-on.
Behind the Brawns, Williams and Ferraris is Lewis Hamilton in seventh, having enjoyed a reasonably competitive session, less than half a second away from the ultimate pace - although both he and McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen ended the session in the pits with their cars being worked on.
The Finn in particular only completed seven laps and ended the session at the bottom of the timesheet.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were eighth and ninth for Red Bull, followed by the Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli. Giancarlo Fisichella put in a feisty performance to go 12th.
There was plenty of incident as well. Other than Raikkonen's dramas, Nelson Piquet spun into the gravel at Turn 6 when something appeared to fall off the front of his Renault car.
Trulli, Fisichella, Robert Kubica, Glock, Sebastien Bourdais, Massa, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso all either had spins or off-track excursions.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:36.260 27
2. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:36.305 + 0.045 25
3. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:36.430 + 0.170 20
4. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:36.487 + 0.227 22
5. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:36.561 + 0.301 21
6. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:36.646 + 0.386 18
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:36.699 + 0.439 16
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:36.703 + 0.443 23
9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:36.747 + 0.487 25
10. Glock Toyota (B) 1:36.980 + 0.720 27
11. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:36.982 + 0.722 26
12. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:37.025 + 0.765 20
13. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:37.039 + 0.779 18
14. Piquet Renault (B) 1:37.199 + 0.939 20
15. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:37.241 + 0.981 18
16. Alonso Renault (B) 1:37.395 + 1.135 12
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:37.634 + 1.374 22
18. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:37.640 + 1.380 17
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:38.022 + 1.762 19
20. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:38.483 + 2.223 7