Lewis Hamilton was handed a timely boost in his bid to win the British Grand Prix for a record-equalling fifth time after Valtteri Bottas was served a grid penalty following a gearbox change on Friday.
Bottas, who moved to within 15 points of Hamilton after his victory in Austria last weekend, appeared the man best placed to rival his Mercedes team-mate after topping both practice sessions here at Silverstone.
But the 27-year-old Finn will start no higher than sixth after he was sanctioned with a five-place drop for Sunday's race. It marked the second grand prix in succession in which a Mercedes driver has been penalised for a gearbox change. Hamilton started eighth in Austria following his grid sanction, before crossing the line in fourth.
The Briton's build-up to his home race has been overshadowed by his two-day break to the Greek island of Mykonos - meaning he was the only driver to miss a spectacular Formula One parade through London on Wednesday evening.
But Bottas' demise paves the way for him to head unchallenged to a fourth consecutive win at Silverstone. Indeed Mercedes, on the basis of Friday's practice at least, appear to hold the edge over Ferrari and Hamilton over his title rival Sebastian Vettel, whom he trails by 20 points.
''Today's been a really good start to the weekend and it's great to be back here at Silverstone,'' Hamilton said, before news of Bottas' grid penalty broke.
''The track is absolutely incredible with these new cars. It was already one of the very best circuits in the world, but with this car and the speed we are able to carry through the corners, it's just phenomenal, it's like the greatest rollercoaster ride ever.
''We worked through all the sessions, fine-tuning the balance and I think we're in a good position at this early stage of the weekend. We still need to build upon it, but it's a great foundation moving forward.''
Hamilton, seemingly on a charm offensive after his name was jeered in London on Wednesday evening, added: ''Each time I left the garage I gave the fans a wave and I could see them waving back. I just want them to know that I can see them and I really appreciate all the love and support.''
Vettel, who has been so consistent this season, was only fourth here, four tenths of a second slower than the Mercedes pair. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who spun off the circuit during the second session, ended the day third in the order.