The Englishman's best lap of 1:41.763 was nearly two tenths quicker than Series rival Grosjean with Bird's teammate half a second off his best time, set with just three minutes remaining in a session that saw times tumble as the track warmed up.
A short shower ahead of free practice saw all of the drivers head onto the circuit on wets, but they all returned to the new pit complex a lap or two later to change onto slick tires. Luca Filippi was the first man back out on track and was soon setting the pace, with Rodolfo Gonzalez initially the only man close to the Italian's times.
But with ten minutes remaining the track was clear enough to push: Grosjean and Bird soon squeezed by on the timesheets, with Filippi coming in for fresh tires before improving his times again, along with most of the field. Giedo van der Garde pushed just a little too hard though: the Dutchman ran wide and found the wall, and will need a new rear wing ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session.
The top ten was rounded out by David Valsecchi, Filippi, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, van der Garde, Luiz Razia and Jules Bianchi, all of whom will be hoping that the spots of rain appearing immediately after the session will disappear before they return to the track this afternoon.
Silverstone – Free Practice
|1.||Sam Bird||iSport International||1:41.763||10|
|3.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||1:42.293||8|
|4.||Davide Valsecchi||Caterham Team AirAsia||1:42.305||11|
|5.||Luca Filippi||Super Nova Racing||1:42.577||13|
|6.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||1:42.668||11|
|8.||Giedo van der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||1:42.794||8|
|9.||Luiz Razia||Caterham Team AirAsia||1:42.840||12|
|10.||Jules Bianchi||Lotus ART||1:42.933||12|
|11.||Charles Pic||Barwa Addax Team||1:42.949||8|
|12.||Christian Vietoris||Racing Engineering||1:42.978||9|
|13.||Michael Herck||Scuderia Coloni||1:43.093||11|
|15.||Stefano Coletti||Trident Racing||1:43.250||12|
|16.||Dani Clos||Racing Engineering||1:43.291||9|
|19||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Trident Racing||1:43.614||13|
|20.||Jolyon Palmer||Arden International||1:43.616||11|
|21.||Josef Kral||Arden International||1:43.737||12|
|22.||Kevin Ceccon||Scuderia Coloni||1:44.053||14|
|23.||Johnny Cecotto||Ocean Racing Technology||1:44.188||9|
|25.||Fairuz Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||1:44.389||13|
|26.||Kevin Mirocha||Ocean Racing Technology||1:46.477||7|