Hamilton leads Bottas as Mercedes top first practice

Photo: AP

Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Friday's opening practice for the British Grand Prix.

The defending four-time world champion, who is bidding for a fifth consecutive home win and record sixth overall, was almost four-tenths of a second clear as the champion team reasserted some authority after the debacle of their double retirement in Austria.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari, half a second behind Hamilton's time of one minute and 27.487 seconds but ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the leading Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull.

Romain Grosjean was seventh for Haas before surviving a big crash when he slammed into the barriers at Turn One. He was unhurt, but the impact required the deployment of a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) for the first time.

Sergio Perez was eighth ahead of his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll of Williams.

Verstappen set the pace in the opening minutes, but ended the session with four minutes remaining, his car stranded on the start-finish straight with a gearbox problem. This triggered a second VSC.

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