The returning Nico Hulkenberg classified in seventh, 0.636s behind his new team-mate, as he got back up to speed in Formula 1.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon finished the session as the second-fastest driver ahead of his and his team’s home round.
But he also ended it with his RB16 requiring a heavy re-build job.
Albon lost control of the car, which has suffered from balance issues all season, through the right-hander at Stowe and speared off-track, and into the barriers.
The Medical Car was deployed but Albon was able to extricate himself from the wreckage of the car.
A close fight on Friday
Less than a second covered the leading 13 drivers, with various run plans and simulations interrupted by Albon’s crash, while rookie Latifi was the only outlier at the back.
Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton – chasing a sixth British Grand Prix win in seven years – were third and fifth respectively, split by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. was sixth, ahead of the aforementioned Hulkenberg, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, who put in a rare top 10 appearance by the team’s 2020 standards.
Max Verstappen finished the session only 14th though his Soft run was compromised, meaning he was the sole driver to record their best time on the Medium compound.
More woe for Vettel
It was two years ago at Silverstone that Sebastian Vettel pulled off a stunning late pass on Bottas to reignite his title ambitions with a supreme victory.
In the interim period he has managed just two wins and a repeat of that heady day appeared but a distant memory on Friday.
Vettel managed just two installation laps in FP1 as Ferrari checked a suspected intercooler problem in his SF1000.
That problem was repaired, with no replacement part required, but his FP2 programme was compromised as Ferrari undertook a change of pedals.
Vettel then finished only 18th, in front of just Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Latifi, as he skirted with the run-off areas in an SF1000 that looked far from compliant.
Cooler conditions expected
On an exceptionally hot and sunny day in Britain the mercury at Silverstone reached 36c.
Such conditions are more aligned with other venues Formula 1 visits such as Hungary, Bahrain or the humid box of Singapore.
But those high temperatures are not expected to last for the remainder of the weekend.
A high of 24c is expected for Saturday’s qualifying session, along with the risk of a shower, while slightly cooler weather is anticipated on Sunday.
Saturday’s third practice session is scheduled for 11:00 local time.