Valtteri Bottas led a Mercedes 1-2 in the opening practice session for the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, narrowly edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Incredibly, both drivers managed to lap faster than Hamilton’s pole position time posted in 2016 – on Pirelli’s Soft compound rubber to boot – while their rivals from Red Bull Racing and Ferrari posted their quickest times on the grippier Super Soft tyres.

The Silver Arrows drivers traded fastest lap times, with Bottas emerging on top with a 1:29.106 effort, just 0.078 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s best lap of the session.

Despite its horsepower disadvantage, Red Bull Racing beat Ferrari into ‘best of the rest’ status, with Max Verstappen lapping third quickest and half a second off Bottas’ pace, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo was a further half-second down on the Dutch driver.

Ferrari occupied fifth and sixth on the timesheets, with Kimi Räikkönen narrowly outpacing teammate and championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who had a spin at Becketts thirty minutes into the session.

Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari SF70H - 2017 British Grand Prix

Vettel debuted the FIA’s ‘Shield’ cockpit protection system.

The German was also the first driver to trial the FIA’s new ‘Shield’ cockpit protection concept, briefly running the device before his car was returned to its more traditional configuration.

A late surge saw Daniil Kvyat haul his Toro Rosso into seventh place ahead of the McLaren Hondas of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who sandwiched Williams’ Felipe Massa on the timesheets.

Massa was another driver to run off-track, suffering a clumsy wobble over the kerbs at the exit of Copse which damaged the Brazilian’s floor.

Kvyat’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr found himself – or at least his car – in hot water with the FIA Stewards, who momentarily contemplated sanctioning the team for presenting his car for scrutineering in an allegedly “unsafe condition”. The Spaniard’s STR12 was submitted with a damaged wheel tether for Thursday’s inspection, and was subsequently resubmitted for scrutineering on Friday once the offending part – which the team blamed on a manufacturing error – had been replaced.

Behind the two heavily-upgraded Force India Mercedes’ of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez, Haas’ Romain Grosjean tried new Carbone Industrie brake material and finished the session fourteenth-fastest ahead of the second Williams of Lance Stroll. Like his teammate Massa, Stroll also had an off-track moment during the session.

Strapped into the second Haas was Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, making the first of a number of planned FP1 outings for the American team over the remainder of the season. Driving in place of regular driver Kevin Magnussen, the Italian finished 16th-fastest and four-tenths of a second slower than Grosjean.

The two Renaults and Saubers brought up the rear of the field, with Nico Hülkenberg outpacing teammate Jolyon Palmer for the former. The two Saubers lapped almost a second slower, with Pascal Wehrlein finishing ahead of Marcus Ericsson.

Friday’s second practice session at Silverstone will begin at 13:00 local time (GMT +1).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:29.106 Pirelli Soft 29
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:29.184 Pirelli Soft 29
3. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.604 Pirelli Super Soft 26
4. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.942 Pirelli Super Soft 19
5. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:30.137 Pirelli Super Soft 19
6. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:30.517 Pirelli Super Soft 19
7. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:30.895 Pirelli Super Soft 21
8. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:30.993 Pirelli Super Soft 20
9. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:30.999 Pirelli Soft 26
10. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:31.041 Pirelli Super Soft 27
11. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:31.200 Pirelli Super Soft 24
12. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:31.210 Pirelli Soft 32
13. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:31.297 Pirelli Soft 33
14. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:31.610 Pirelli Soft 24
15. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:31.684 Pirelli Soft 24
16. Antonio Giovinazzi it Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:32.031 Pirelli Soft 24
17. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:32.171 Pirelli Super Soft 19
18. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:32.450 Pirelli Super Soft 16
19. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:33.029 Pirelli Soft 23
20. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:33.399 Pirelli Soft 26

Images via Sutton Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.