Maverick Vinales laid down an early marker at the British Grand Prix by topping the timesheets in first practice at Silverstone. The Movistar Yamaha rider, who claimed his maiden premier class victory here last year, ended the morning half a second clear of Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo and home favourite Cal Crutchlow.
In typical fashion, championship leader Marc Marquez took no time to get the hang of Silverstone with a blistering time attack at the start of the session. The Spaniard was immediately lapping in the 2:03s bracket with Crutchlow the only man able to keep him in sight early on.
With a quarter of an hour to go, the Yamahas finally came to life with Vinales dropping into the 2:02s, knocking Marquez off the top, while Valentino Rossi slotted straight into second, all but matching his team-mate’s time. Their period of dominance was brief though, with Crutchlow returning Honda to the top of the standings with a 2:02.769 on his LCR machine.
Speaking on Thursday, the leading contenders expected all three frontrunning manufacturers to contend for the victory and Lorenzo’s late burst of pace supports that theory, the five-times champion clocking a 2:02.649 with six minutes remaining, but the last word would go to his replacement at Yamaha with Vinales’ late stunner ensuring he would set the FP1 pace.
Marquez wound up fourth in the end, just ahead of Rossi, while Alvaro Bautista leapt to sixth in the dying seconds to edge out Johann Zarco. Aleix Espargaro ensured an Aprilia would end the morning inside the top ten, going eighth fastest, although there was early disappointment for his team-mate on home soil as Sam Lowes suffered a crash at turn twelve.
The last Q2 spots at this early stage are held by Scott Redding and Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso with Dani Pedrosa the high-profile rider out of position so far, the Repsol Honda man only managing fourteenth.