Hamilton is beaten to top spot by Verstappen in first practice session

Lewis Hamilton’s British Grand Prix weekend gets off to a slow start as reigning F1 world champion is beaten to top spot in first practice session by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen

  • Lewis Hamilton finished in second place in British Grand Prix opening practice 
  • Hamilton trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.474 seconds at Silverstone  
  • Nico Hulkenberg, who was drafted in by Racing Point, finished in ninth place 

Lewis Hamilton was beaten to top spot by Max Verstappen in opening practice for the British Grand Prix.

Championship leader Hamilton, bidding to win at Silverstone for a seventh time on Sunday, trailed Red Bull’s Verstappen by 0.474 seconds.

Nico Hulkenberg, drafted in by Racing Point at the eleventh hour to replace Sergio Perez, finished ninth. 

Lewis Hamilton finished in second place in opening practice for the British Grand Prix

Hamilton’s Mercedes team have been the class of the field so far this term, winning all three opening rounds.

Hamilton, five points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the standings, predicted that the all-black cars will be difficult to beat this weekend.

But Verstappen’s strong pace in the opening action at a sun-drenched, spectator-less Silverstone, suggested Hamilton and Mercedes will not have it all their own way.

Max Verstappen managed to get the better of Hamilton by 0.474 seconds at Silverstone

Verstappen might have set his best lap on the speediest soft tyre compound – with Hamilton electing to use the slower medium rubber – but Red Bull will nevertheless be encouraged by the Dutchman’s time.

Lance Stroll finished third for Racing Point, with Alexander Albon fourth in the other Red Bull. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fifth with Bottas only sixth in the order, more than one second off Verstappen’s pace.

Hulkenberg, the German driver with 177 grand prix starts under his belt, was thrust back into the limelight here after Racing Point elected to use his services as a replacement for Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg, who was drafted in at short notice by Racing Point, finished in ninth place

Perez has been sidelined for this race, and probably the ensuing round at Silverstone next weekend, too, after contracting coronavirus.

The 30-year-old returned a positive result on Thursday evening after revealing he visited Mexico to see his sick mother following the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg, who was dropped by Renault at the end of last season, finished sixth-tenths behind team-mate Stroll.

Lance Stroll finished in third place for Racing Point in the first practice session on Friday

Elsewhere, the session was temporarily red-flagged after Antonio Giovinazzi ran through the gravel at Becketts and shredded his rear tyre. The marshals were deployed to sweep up the debris allowing the session to get under way once again.

McLaren driver Lando Norris finished 13th, one spot behind team-mate Carlos Sainz with George Russel 17th for Williams.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did not complete one lap after the four-time world champion was restricted to the garage with mechanical problems. It is expected he will be up and running again for the second session which takes place later this afternoon.

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