The Red Bull driver produced a 1m27.035s on Pirelli’s soft tyre to end Friday’s sole practice session nearly eight-tenths clear of McLaren’s Lando Norris, who set his best time on mediums.

Verstappen ended up 0.780s faster than main title rival Lewis Hamilton, who heads into his home race at Silverstone 32 points down on the Dutchman in the championship.

When informed of Verstappen’s seven-tenth advantage over the rest of the field in FP1, Hamilton was left perplexed, responding: “Seven tenths?! Where does that come from?”

It will act as a concern for Hamilton and Mercedes heading into Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, which will set the grid for F1’s new sprint qualifying race on Saturday.

Mercedes has brought upgrades to its W12 for this weekend’s British GP in its quest to bridge the gap to Red Bull, but it was Verstappen who laid down the gauntlet at this early stage of the weekend.

Charles Leclerc split the Mercedes drivers in fourth ahead of Valtteri Bottas and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, while Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was seventh, a second off the pace.

As has often been the case this season, Sergio Perez struggled to match his teammate’s raw pace over one lap as he ended up over a full second down on Verstappen’s benchmark in eighth.

Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon completed the top-10 order for McLaren and Alpine.

It was a busy practice session with the teams only getting an hour of running to fine tune their set-ups for the rest of the weekend before parc ferme conditions come into force when qualifying begins at 6pm local time.

Full results from opening practice for the 2021 British Grand Prix.