Television and trackside viewers face a questionable spectacle on Saturday morning at Albert Park.
As ever, an hour of third practice is scheduled to finish just two hours before the all-important qualifying hour.
Some teams, however, may not bother to send their cars out at all on Saturday morning.
That’s because the newly V6-powered cars have not only proved worryingly unreliable in winter testing, but because repairing them now takes much longer than in the past.
“Sometimes hours pass before a diagnosis is even made,” said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.
A full engine change can now take a whopping six hours, but Force India technical boss Andy Green added: “If we have to piece it together with individual parts, it can be 18 hours.”
FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed to reporters in Melbourne: “I’ve heard teams say that they’d skip P3 to make sure they have a car for qualifying.” (GMM)