Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time at a wet Silverstone. With rain falling before and throughout the 90-minute session, wet tyres were the order of the day, with the field threading their way between patches of standing water.
Ricciardo’s time of 1:54.249 was set in the final minute. Indeed, most of the action took place in the last ten minutes as drivers left it late in the hope conditions would improve. Ricciardo was the first man to set a time, lapping in 2:00.029 with fourteen minutes of the session remaining and no-one else on the circuit. His time triggered movement in the pits with most of the field heading out soon after.
Conditions were bad, particularly on the newer Arena section, which seemed to drain less effectively than the older sections of track. Spins and slides were rife, though Charles Pic was the only driver to sustain damage: his Caterham sliding into the barriers at Club corner and losing its front wing.
Ricciardo improved his time but with four minutes remaining, Lewis Hamilton went to the top of the order with 1:55.458 for Mercedes. After that the track seemed to get slower – but not for Ricciardo who celebrated the second anniversary of his F1 debut by nipping in at the very end of the session to reclaim the top spot.
In the end only 11 drivers set times. Ricciardo was followed by Nico Hülkenberg (Sauber) in P2, Pastor Maldonado (Williams) third, Hamilton fourth, Esteban Gutiérrez (Sauber) fifth, Valtteri Bottas (Williams) sixth, Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) seventh, Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) eighth, Max Chilton (Marussia) ninth, Jules Bianchi (Marussia) tenth and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) eleventh.
The rest of the field failed to set a time, though everyone went out for at least an installation lap, with the exception of Kimi Räikkönen. Lotus had hinted he would be running development parts in the session but the Finn’s car spent the session on stands in the garage, minus its nosecone.
British Grand Prix, first free practice times
1 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:54.249
2 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:55.033 +0.784
3 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:55.354 +1.105
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:55.458 +1.209
5 Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1:55.825 +1.576
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:56.361 +2.112
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:57.891 +3.642
8 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:58.859 +4.610
9 Max Chilton Marussia 1:59.719 +5.470
10 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:59.876 +5.627
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:06.534 +12.285
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes No time
13 Paul di Resta Force India No time
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus No time
15 Jenson Button McLaren No time
16 Adrian Sutil Force India No time
17 Fernando Alonso Ferrari No time
18 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing No time
19 Sergio Pérez McLaren No time
20 Charles Pic Caterham No time
21 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing No time
22 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus No time