Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to the top of the timesheets as practice for this weekend’s British Grand Prix to underway at Silvertsone.
The session began with Sebastian Vettel taking to the circuit with a revised version of the Halo head protection device fitted to his Ferrari. The German ran with the new design on his installation lap before settling into his main work of the morning.
That saw the four-time champion eventually take fourth place in the session with a time of 1:32.501, just nine thousandths of a second adrift of third-placed man Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
At the top of the timesheet Mercedes displayed ominous pace, however, with Hamilton setting a fastest lap of 1:31.654, over eight tenths of a second clear of nearest non-Mercedes rival Vettel.
Rosberg, who like his team-mate set his best time on the Medium Pirelli tyres, pushed the defending champion hard, however, ending the session just 0.033s behind. Hulkenberg, meanwhile, had set his P3 time on the Soft compound tyre.
Fifth place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver set the early pace in the session but gradually slipped back to more than a second adrift behind pacesetter Hamilton.
Renault-powered Ricciardo finished just under three tenths of a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who set a time of 1:33.039 on a morning when Ferrari confirmed that the Finn will race another season for the team in 2017.
Max Verstappen finished seventh in the second Red Bull ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz was ninth for Toro Rosso ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
Williams, who have performed well at high-speed Silverstone in recent years, had a quiet opening session, with Valtteri Bottas behind twelfth-placed Jenson and with Felipe Massa behind his team-mate in P14.
2016 British Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.654 30
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.687 33
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.492 30
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.501 20
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:32.773 30
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.039 28
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:33.202 22
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.235 30
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:33.446 19
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:33.527 22
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:33.738 20
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.132 24
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:34.263 38
14 Felipe Massa Williams 1:34.456 34
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:34.547 24
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:34.787 29
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:34.805 21
18 Charles Leclerc Haas 1:35.869 26
19 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:35.980 31
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:36.003 19
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:36.136 25
22 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:36.647 29