Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Silverstone II FP1: Bottas sets the early pace

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

Moving to put last Sunday’s misfortune behind him, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was fastest in first practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Friday.

Setting a fastest lap of 1:26.166, Bottas was 0.138 seconds ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, and 0.727s faster than the next-closest Max Verstappen.

An important weekend for the Finn, who is 30 points behind championship-leader Hamilton, Bottas’ made sure his weekend started on the right foot, while his team should be reassured their pace advantage over the rest of the grid remains as intact as ever.

Indeed, Pirelli’s decision to use tyres a step softer for the second-straight race at the Silverstone circuit has not been quite the performance-equaliser many would have hoped.

Particularly after last Sunday’s tyre blowouts, it seems teams are dismissing the softs entirely as no car ran anything other than the red-striped tyres, ostensibly because they will be avoided in the race.

As for the big story that broke before FP1 regarding the Racing Point verdict, this weekend might end up adding to the controversy if Nico Hulkenberg’s effort here is any indication, the German fourth-fastest in his illegal-but-not-illegal car.

Behind him was last Sunday’s surprise podium-winner Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque the last of the runners within a second of the fastest time.

Alexander Albon was sixth for Red Bull, 0.387s off teammate Verstappen in a crucial weekend for the Thai.

Sebastian Vettel’s weekend got off to a much better start than his last one, managing P7 ahead of Lance Stroll, the latter still yet to unlock the pace of the RP20 at this circuit.

Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon rounded-out the top ten, both drivers having a point-to-prove with their teammates this weekend.

A mere 0.006s back was Kvyat’s AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly, leading Lando Norris, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz in short succession.

The Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi enjoyed a positive start to the weekend in 15th and 16th respectively, ahead of the unusually-slow second-Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica came next, with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen bringing up the rear.