GP2 title contender Sam Bird got his home race weekend at Silverstone off to the best possible start by recording the fastest time in the free practice session.

The session started on a damp track, with most drivers opting to do an installation lap at the start of the session before returning to the pits. Of those that did set an early lap time it was Stefano Coletti who was quickest for Trident.

The session remained quiet for much of the first half as drivers waited for the moment to switch to slick tyres as the track dried. When they did emerge Luca Filippi was the first man to set a representative lap time, nine seconds quicker than Coletti's previous benchmark.

Championship leader Romain Grosjean hit the front with about ten minutes remaining, going a whole second quicker than Filippi. Bird moved up to second place, half a second away from Grosjean.

With three minutes remaining Bird when fastest, 0.173s quicker than Grosjean. That was good enough for the Brit to end the session on top, with iSport teammate Marcus Ericsson ending up third behind Grosjean.

Davide Valsecchi was fourth fastest for Caterham AirAsia, ahead of fellow Italian Filippi. Esteban Gutierrez was sixth, fresh from his maiden victory last time out at Valencia. Max Chilton was seventh, just ahead of Giedo van der Garde. The Dutchman crashed at the end of the session after running wide at Stowe.

Free practice session results:

Pos. Driver Team Laptime Gap Laps
1. Sam Bird iSport International 1:41.763 10
2. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:41.936 +0.173 11
3. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:42.293 +0.530 8
4. Davide Valsecchi Caterham Team AirAsia 1:42.305 +0.542 11
5. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:42.577 +0.814 13
6. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:42.668 +0.905 11
7. Max Chilton Carlin 1:42.787 +1.024 11
8. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:42.794 +1.031 8
9. Luiz Razia Caterham Team AirAsia 1:42.840 +1.077 12
10. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:42.933 +1.170 12
11. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:42.949 +1.186 8
12. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:42.978 +1.215 9
13. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:43.093 +1.330 11
14. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:43.128 +1.365 12
15. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:43.250 +1.487 12
16. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:43.291 +1.528 9
17. Julian Leal Rapax 1:43.544 +1.781 10
18. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:43.574 +1.811 11
19 Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:43.614 +1.851 13
20. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:43.616 +1.853 11
21. Josef Kral Arden International 1:43.737 +1.974 12
22. Kevin Ceccon Scuderia Coloni 1:44.053 +2.290 14
23. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:44.188 +2.425 9
24. Alvaro Parente Carlin 1:44.316 +2.553 10
25. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:44.389 +2.626 13
26. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:46.477 +4.714 7