Lewis Hamilton managed to post fastest lap of 1:49.834 with Sebastian Vettel just less the a tenth slower. Nico Rosberg in third.
Nico Rosberg edges his teammate by almost two tenths. Kimi Raikkonen is in third.
The real race pace will be known only on Sunday.
Both silver arrows are in the top three spots on the timesheets with Ferrari's Raikkonen separating them.
Mercedes team gets first 1-2 finish of the season, Vettel in third.
Both McLaren drivers start form the back.
Mercedes-powered cars lead the field, Felipe Massa in third.
The contempt action will now be heard at 1030am on Friday, just two hours before practice is due to start.
Sauber is fighting van der Garde's bid to race in 2015.