The seven-time champion set his 1m29.183s lap on the last of the session, on a track that was improving in terms of grip with every second of running, but in spite of being at the right end of the roulette wheel the Mercedes driver had look good for it throughout the last frantic 20 minutes of running to be fair.
In the end Schumacher denied Nico Hulkenberg another giant-killing headline, and the young German had to settle for second best this time. Sergio Perez was third fastest for Sauber.
Torrential rain during the break between the two sessions rendered much of FP2 largely pointless, and it was Perez and Schumacher that were nominally fastest on the intermediates by the time the teams reached a natural pause around two thirds of the way through the practice.
As Albert Park fell silent, it was clear many of the teams were protecting their new cars from the walls that enclosed the slippery surface - aware perhaps that spares are at premium at this point in the season.
Only in the last 20 minutes did they deem it safe enough to venture back out and the session finally came alive when it was dry enough to run on slicks.
And during this period it was Hulkenberg who starred as he embarked on a battle with Schumacher for top honours - the Force India driver on the soft tyres and the Mercedes using mediums. Hulkenberg's team-mate Paul di Resta also had a brief spell at the top of the times before fading to sixth.
Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest in the Ferrari ahead of Kamui Kobayashi – who had a wild ride at the final turn on his last lap.
Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg and world champion Sebastian Vettel completed the top ten.
Neither McLaren driver featured much in the session as they preferred to stay out of the danger zone, and both ended up behind Timo Glock's 12th placed Marussia.
There were several visits to the grass and run-off for much of the field, including Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne, Webber and Kovalainen, but no contact with the barriers.