Max Verstappen led the way in the opening practice session for the British Grand Prix as Nico Hulkenberg made a surprise Formula 1 return with Racing Point.

The Red Bull driver turned in a 1m27.422 on Soft tyres to head championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes by 0.474s, though Hamilton, who was the only other driver to dip under the 1m28s bracket, set his best time on Mediums.

Lance Stroll was third-fastest for Racing Point, ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, who has a new race engineer at Silverstone in the form of the returning Simon Rennie.

The sole-running Ferrari of Charles Leclerc wound up fifth and less than a second off the pace, while Valtteri Bottas was over a second adrift but registered his fastest lap on the Hard compound.

Renault locked out positions P7 and P8 as Esteban Ocon got the better of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg finished ninth and was just 1.170s off the pace on what marked his first F1 appearance since the 2019 season finale in Abu Dhabi following a late call up to replace Sergio Perez at Silverstone after the Mexican became the first driver to test positive for COVID-19 since the delayed season started earlier this month.

Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10 having narrowly edged out AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly, with the Frenchman ahead of the McLaren duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, and the Haas pair headed by Kevin Magnussen.

Kimi Raikkonen suffered an early spin into the gravel at Luffield on his way to setting the 16th-fastest time, with Williams driver George Russell less than a tenth behind in P17.

The second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi also endured an off-track moment with a high-speed spin coming out of Becketts. The Italian’s C38 snapped as he lost control exiting the corner onto the Hangar Straight.

Giovinazzi has been summoned to the British GP stewards for potentially breaching F1’s sporting regulations by driving “unnecessarily erratically” when he returned to the pitlane. He littered debris across the track which led to a brief red flag period.

Sebastian Vettel failed to set a lap time and was forced to miss the opening session after Ferrari discovered an issue with the intercooler system on the German’s SF1000, requiring a full strip down of his car before FP2.

Full results from opening practice for the 2020 F1 British Grand Prix. 

 

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