While the F1 paddock came to terms with the overnight announcement that FOTA is to launch a breakaway series in 2010, there was the small matter of on-track action to contend with as Red Bull led the way in the opening practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Sebastian Vettel emerged at the head of the times ahead of team-mate Mark Webber as the Renault-powered squad showed the pace of the upgraded RB5 for its home round of the season.

It had looked like Webber would have the upper hand as he led the way into the final stages of the session, with Vettel losing time behind the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi on one of his final flying laps. However, the young German responded on the next lap to post a quickest time of 1min 19.400secs to go quickest in the final minute, with Webber just under three-tenths of a second further back.

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The Red Bull pair were well clear of the chasing pack, with championship leader Jenson Button third quickest after jumping ahead of Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello late on, although the two drivers were more than eight tenths of a second off the pace shown by Vettel.

Following the tightly-fought practice sessions seen in recent events, the gaps in the field were noticeably larger this time around, with the Brawn pair being the only drivers to get within a second of the quickest time.

Fernando Alonso was fifth quickest for Renault ahead of the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Jarno Trulli's Toyota, while Lewis Hamilton was eighth for McLaren. Nico Rosberg was ninth for Williams while there was encouragement for Force India as Giancarlo Fisichella completed the top ten - just ahead of team-mate Adrian Sutil.

A number of drivers endured off-track excursions, including Trulli, Timo Glock and Nelson Piquet, while the troubled season of Robert Kubica continued as he ended the session bottom of the timesheets.