Lewis Hamilton began as he undoubtedly means to go on in opening practice for this weekend's British Grand Prix on home soil at Silverstone, by scorching to the top of the timesheets ahead of what looks set to be a fraught McLaren-Ferrari scrap for supremacy.

The world championship leader traded the fastest time with team-mate Fernando Alonso and resurgent Ferrari aces Felipe Massa and Magny-Cours winner Kimi Raikkonen throughout the 90-minute session, before ending proceedings on top to the evident delight of the throngs of partisan supporters present, despite a brief spin at Farm midway through.

It was ultimately Raikkonen who would get closest to him, just over a tenth of a second shy, with Massa backing him up close behind in third with very little to choose between the two scarlet machines as Ferrari chose to concentrate on longer runs and elected not to go out on the soft tyre towards the end as most teams did. Alonso would end the session almost six tenths of a second adrift in fourth place despite being one of those to bolt on the softer rubber, but few doubt he will be bang on the pace when it really counts.

A strong late effort vaulted Nico Rosberg up to fifth on the 30th anniversary of Williams' Formula 1 debut, with team-mate Alex Wurz backing the young German up in eighth. BMW stars Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were the meat in a Grove sandwich at the close, evenly-matched as usual in sixth and seventh, with Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello filling out the top ten.

Behind them Schumacher's team-mate Jarno Trulli wound up eleventh ahead of Super Aguri's Anthony Davidson, followed by a low-key showing from reigning double world champions Renault in 13th (Heikki Kovalainen) and 14th (Giancarlo Fisichella).

Jenson Button was a lowly 15th in front of his loyal supporters - desperate to see an upturn in the Honda ace's fortunes on home turf - almost a full 2.5 seconds off the leading pace, ahead of Takuma Sato, a subdued Red Bull Racing pairing of Mark Webber and David Coulthard - the latter of whom like Hamilton endured a spin - Scott Speed, Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christijan Albers.

The second 90-minute free practice session is due to get underway at 2pm UK time.

To see the full session one times, Click Here



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