Valtteri Bottas continued his impressive recent form by topping the opening Formula 1 practice session for the British Grand Prix, heading up a one-two finish for Mercedes at Silverstone on Friday morning.
Bottas moved into the thick of the F1 title fight with his second career victory in Austria last weekend, and arrived at Silverstone on Thursday keen to carry the momentum through the halfway point in the season.
Bottas and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton comfortably led proceedings through first practice as lap times tumbled, both lapping below last year’s pole time thanks to the new, high-downforce cars for 2017.
A fastest time of 1:29.106 gave Bottas P1 by 0.078 seconds ahead of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets, giving Mercedes a boost heading into the remainder of the weekend.
Red Bull emerged as Mercedes’ closest challenger through FP1 as Max Verstappen finished half a second off Bottas in P3, although not without an issue trying to pit early in the session (below). Teammate Daniel Ricciardo was a further three-tenths of a second back in P4.
Drivers’ championship leader Sebastian Vettel had a quiet session besides his early run using the ‘Shield’ cockpit protection, which made its public debut in FP1.
Vettel finished 1.4 seconds off Bottas’ best time in sixth place, trailing Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in P5, and was fortunate to avoid a spin through the fast Maggots-Becketts complex early in the session.
Armed with the updated ‘Spec 3’ Honda power unit in both cars, McLaren enjoyed a strong FP1 as Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished inside the top 10.
Alonso with eighth-fastest, splitting Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa, while Vandoorne rounded out the top half of the order, 1.9 seconds back from Bottas.
Antonio Giovinazzi, in his first FP1 session for Haas F1 Team sitting in for Kevin Magnussen, was 16th, 2.9 seconds off the pace of Bottas. But he was only 0.4 of a second off Romain Grosjean, a solid outing.
FP2 is live on the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Friday. FP1 times are below.