Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest in the first practice session for the British Grand Prix, going four-tenths faster than the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. The Dutchman set his fastest time on the soft tyres to go faster than the six-times champion, who set his fastest time on the slower medium tyres.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was third fastest ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Red Bull was expected to be the closest challenge to Mercedes and at this early phase of the double-header, they appear to be living up to that expectation.
Albon was seven-tenths slower than his teammate, ahead of Leclerc, who was the only Ferrari to set a time after Sebastian Vettel was only able to manage two laps because of an intercooler issue.
The session took place under cloudless skies and in soaring temperatures of more than 30C.
Hamilton was first out onto the empty Silverstone circuit going second on his first timed lap behind teammate Valtteri Bottas. However, couldn’t match Verstappen on the medium tyre for the outright fastest time but on the same compound of tyre early on was about half a second quicker. Bottas ending the session sixth fastest.
He started the weekend looking strong but quickly rejected the ‘soft’ tyre that Verstappen used to set his fastest time, Hamilton saying: “Let’s get off this tyre, it’s terrible.” His fastest time was set on the medium.
Other than that, the morning was smooth, although Mercedes has fitted a new MGU-K to his car, after seeing some anomalies on the data in Hungary. All of the Mercedes powered cars will have the upgrade for next weekends race at Silverstone.
Nico Hulkenberg returned to the track for the first time this season, he was ninth fastest for Racing Point. He replaces Sergio Perez who is in self-isolation after testing positive for Coronavirus. It was a good start for the German, six tenths slower than his teammate Stroll.
A decent start given he was driving the car for the first time and was only drafted in late on Thursday when Perez’s positive test was confirmed. He was only given access to the paddock with moments to spare as he awaited confirmation of a negative test.
Renault drivers Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh and eighth overall ahead of Hulkenberg, while Daniil Kvyat closed out the top ten for Alpha Tauri, narrowly beating teammate Pierre Gasly.
Carlos Sainz was twelfth fastest ahead of teammate Lando Norris by just a thousandth of a second. The McLaren’s where ahead of the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, with Kimi Räikkönen sixteenth in his Alfa Romeo.
George Russell was seventeenth for Williams, that was despite him saying that his car felt “proper wobbly” at one stage through the high-speed Maggots and Becketts complex. Teammate Nicholas Latifi wound up 19th fastest, seventeenths of a second back from Russell.
At the early phase of the weekend, it appears Mercedes remain ahead given there fastest times were on the slower tyre, but Red Bull are closer behind. The second session will see the first long-running of the weekend, Mercedes have won the open three races of the season.