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Home favourite Lewis Hamilton has topped first free practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone by just three hundredths from sparring partner Nico Rosberg as Ferrari's 'Halo' device made its first track appearance since March.

With Mercedes courting the lion's share of the attention off-track this week in the wake of Hamilton and Rosberg's collision on the final lap of the Austrian Grand Prix, both drivers turned their attentions to on-track matters in FP1 as they unleased Mercedes' fearsome pace around the Northamptonshire venue.

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With the two W07s quickest throughout, Hamilton would stop the clock at 1min 31.654secs, putting three hundredths between himself and Rosberg as both dipped below last year's pole winning time without utilising the soft tyres available to them.

The title rivals were in turn eight tenths clear of the third place man Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, with Sebastian Vettel in fourth place, albeit ending the session reporting potential gearbox issues just a week after a replacement caused him a grid penalty.

Earlier in the session, Vettel had the chance to trial the latest prototype of the controversial 'Halo' cockpit protection device. With revised design and structure, the so-called 'Halo 2' was supposed to get a track run in Austria but the trial was deferred to Silverstone due to technical issues with Vettel's car.

Its first appearance since pre-season testing and the latest stage in its evaluation by the FIA for a potential 2017 introduction, Vettel completed just a single slow installation lap before returning to the pit lane.

Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five for Red Bull, ahead of the freshly re-signed Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstapppen, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso.

Elsewhere, GP3 front runner Charles Leclerc made his F1 race weekend debut, driving the Haas VF16 for FP1. The Monegasque driver suffered a spin as he got to grips with the rigours of a 2016-specification F1 car for the first time but was a respectable 18th fastest, just ahead of Mercedes prot?g? Esteban Ocon who completed the session at the wheel of the Renault RS16 in his second FP1 appearance of the season.