Lewis Hamilton set the pace as Mercedes once again started strongly during first practice for the British Grand Prix as Romain Grosjean crashed and Max Verstappen hit trouble.
As Mercedes had done during Friday practice in Austria last weekend, it was a one-two as Hamilton led teammate Valtteri Bottas at Silverstone. Hamilton is chasing a record sixth British Grand Prix victory and his lap of 1m:27.487s left him 0.367s clear of Bottas, who had taken a new power unit as a precaution after his retirement last weekend.
Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari, a little over half a second slower than Hamilton, with consistent gaps of 0.1s between the championship leader and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth, Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and Max Verstappen in sixth.
The latter two drivers both had incidents during the opening session, with Raikkonen spinning at Woodcote after unsettling the car on the inside curb. The Ferrari ended up on the grass on the exit of the corner but Raikkonen managed to keep his engine running and slowly returned to the track.
Verstappen’s problem was more notable, however, as the Dutchman lost drive coming out of the final corner and was told to stop on the pit straight by his team. Although it only happened in the closing moments of the session and cost Verstappen little running, it remains to be seen if any parts will need replacing as a result.
There will definitely be work ongoing in the garage of seventh-placed Romain Grosjean, as the Frenchman crashed at Turn 1 one hour into the 90-minute session. The fast right-hander comes after a DRS zone, meaning drivers can theoretically take the corner with DRS open if they don’t brake, and many drivers were seen closing the DRS on turn in and then reactivating it later on exit.
Grosjean was attempting to do something similar but missed the DRS button as he was unsettled by a bump on the corner entry, meaning he turned in with the DRS open and his car was immediately pitched sideways. The Haas slid through the gravel and the front left corner was damaged against the barrier, though the car was able to be recovered under the Virtual Safety Car.
While frustrated by the crash, Haas will be encouraged by having Grosjean up in seventh place ahead of the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Lance Stroll surprisingly rounded out the top ten for Williams.
The sister Haas of Kevin Magnussen was 14th ahead of Fernando Alonso, but the pair were involved in a strange moment that will see them visit the stewards after the session. Magnussen was overtaking Alonso at Turn 1 but Alonso held on around the outside and was squeezed toward the edge of the track as a result. The pair stayed close for another few corners before Magnussen started to weave on the exit of Turn 5, with the stewards describing the investigation as being against “a potential dangerous maneuver.”
While Stroll delivered an encouraging performance with 10th place, the second Williams of Sergey Sirotkin ended up in the gravel at Club — the final corner — as the Russian initially caught a snap of oversteer but was then pitched in the opposite direction.