Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set an imposing pace in first practice at the British Grand Prix on Formula 1’s new-format weekend.
The Dutchman was 0.779 seconds clear of the field in the only session before qualifying, with rival Lewis Hamilton third behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Hamilton was 0.780secs behind Verstappen and when told of the gap, he said: “Where does that come from?”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth, ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
On a revised weekend, in front of a capacity crowd asked to provide proof of double vaccination status or a negative Covid test before admittance, qualifying will take place later on Friday at 18:00 BST.
That will establish the grid positions for Saturday’s ‘sprint’, a 17-lap race that will set the grid for the main Grand Prix on Sunday.
There will be championship points for the ‘sprint’ event, with three going to the winner, two for second and one for third.
The winner of the sprint race will be officially recognised as the driver who scored pole position.
Hamilton said on Thursday that he needed to win both the sprint and the main Grand Prix to revive his title hopes.
The 36-year-old seven-time champion is 32 points behind Verstappen, who has won four of the past five races, with team-mate Sergio Perez talking the other.
Verstappen will leave Silverstone still at the head of the championship on Sunday even if he scores no points at all and Hamilton wins both races.
Behind Bottas, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was sixth quickest, ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Perez, the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.
The third Briton in the race, Williams’ George Russell, was 20th and slowest of all.