Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clocked in fastest in Friday’s single practice session before qualifying.

The Dutchman enjoyed a comfortable 0.779s margin over McLaren’s Lando Norris, an edge that likely left Mercedes and third-placed man Lewis Hamilton once again with more questions than answers.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas completed the top-five in the incident free session.

Silverstone’s innovative format compelled F1 to schedule Friday’s action later than usual, but the first practice session kicked off under cloudy skies but on a dry track.

However, with lower temperatures all round later today, qualifying will likely unfold under different conditions which is but another factor to throw into the mix. And because teams and drivers were only given a single 60-minute session, everyone was up and running at the outset, focused on set-up and aero balance.

Home favourite and darling of the crowds Lewis Hamilton took to the track under a roaring crowd, a sight and a sound that the Briton had not felt for since his last visit to Silverstone in 2019.

However, it was Verstappen who set the first representative time, the Dutchman running on the hard tyre. But just to get their rivalry rolling, Hamilton shot back with a lap on the mediums that put the Mercedes ahead by 0.584s.

Bottas followed suit, also advancing ahead of Verstappen but slotting in second behind Hamilton. The Finn pressed on and overhauled his teammate, but the Mercedes duo’s 1-2 was short-lived, disrupted by an impressive effort by Perez who set back Bottas by 0.518s.

But whatever Perez does, Max can do better, as he proved when he edged his teammate by 0.326s with a lap in 1m27.745s.

Behind the Red Bull-Mercedes top four combo, a diverse set of drivers led by Esteban Ocon – armed with a new Alpine chassis – jockeyed for position.

Confined to the bottom half of the field during the first 30 minutes, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz vaulted to third and fifth respectively, the pair sandwiching Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, as the track rubbered in and improved, the action was frantic and rotations behind Verstappen were fast and furious, with Lando Norris, Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly getting a grip on the top five.

But as the session unwound, Verstappen remained out of reach, and by a comfortable 0.779s margin over Norris, with Hamilton 0.780s behind.

The Mercedes camp will have been scratching its heads once again, noting that the upgrades implemented on its W12 will have had little effect so far on closing the gap to Red Bull.

Behind the top-three, Leclerc, Bottas and Sainz rounded off the top six while Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo and Ocon completed the top ten.

Both AlphaTauri drivers clocked in outside the first half of the field, as did Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and Alfa Romeo’s drivers, while George Russell’s brought up the rear for Williams.

2021 F1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE RESULTS (1)

POSDRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
1Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing1m27.035s
2Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1m27.814s
3Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m27.815s
4Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1m27.828s
5Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1m27.897s
6Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow1m27.923s
7Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1m28.062s
8Sergio PerezMEXRed Bull Racing1m28.163s
9Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team1m28.211s
10Esteban Ocon FRAAlpine F1 Team1m28.415s
11Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1m28.449s
12Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1m28.600s
13Antonio GiovinazziGBRAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen1m28.827s
14Fernando AlonsoCHIAlpine F1 Team1m28.873s
15Kimi RaikkonenFINAlfa Romeo Racing Orlen1m29.220s
16Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1m29.227s
17Mick SchumacherGERUralkali Haas F1 Team1m29.227s
18Lance StrollCANAston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team1m29.597s
19Nikita MazepinRUSUralkali Haas F1 Team1m29.808
20George RussellGBR Williams Racing1m29.857

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