On the C4 tyre Valtteri Bottas posted a time of 1:26.166 to finish 0.138s faster than team-mate and title leader Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen occupied his increasingly regular position as the fastest non-Mercedes participant, though still lapped seven-tenths down on the Finn.
With each driver having only two sets of the C2, the hardest tyre available, for the duration of the weekend’s action most teams stuck to the C4, of which they have eight sets.
Hulkenberg back in action
Nico Hulkenberg carried out media duties on Thursday still unsure as to whether he would be in Racing Point’s RP20 this weekend.
On Friday morning it was confirmed that Sergio Perez had returned another positive Covid-19 test and has therefore been ruled out of action at Silverstone.
It is not yet clear whether Perez will be able to return at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg got back in to the RP20, which failed to start last Sunday’s race at the same venue due to a sheared bolt, and took an eye-catching fourth.
The German, along with Verstappen and fifth-placed Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, were the only competitors to set a time within a second of Bottas’ best effort.
Tight in the midfield
Alexander Albon took sixth for Red Bull while seventh went to Sebastian Vettel, who has already classified higher in a session than at any point during last weekend’s struggles.
But just three-tenths of a second covered a handful of drivers who hovered around the top 10, which included Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, the AlphaTauri pair of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, as well as Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
Ocon was the only Renault-powered representative on the top half of the timesheets, just 0.006s clear of Gasly, as McLaren took only 12th and 14th courtesy of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Daniel Ricciardo was a subdued 17th in the other R.S.20.
Kubica has another FP1 run
Robert Kubica had another outing as part of his role as Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver – but he finished 19th, ahead only of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
Alfa Romeo was once more the slowest car as its lead driver Kimi Raikkonen finished 2.489s off of compatriot Bottas.
Williams, last in the Constructors’ Championship, had George Russell and Nicholas Latifi in 15th and 16th respectively, as the team chases a Q2 spot for the fourth race on the bounce.
Second practice for Formula 1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix is set for 15:00 local time.