German Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile signed on as Stroll's stand-in team mate after a busy 24 hours triggered by Mexican Sergio Perez becoming the first Formula One driver to test positive for COVID-19.
The two Mercedes men were separated by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in an unexpectedly mixed-up practice order that gave Hamilton some pleasure.
"But it will be very different weather and conditions tomorrow".
Mercedes have won all three races so far this year.
"It has been quite a hard day", he said. "It's always windy here... that's actually a good thing about this track but it's made it really tricky today with the vehicle".
However, he conceded it would need some overnight home work to improve the balance of his vehicle for Saturday's qualifying session. "Also Simon's in charge of a lot of the sim duties that we do back at Milton Keynes so I see him a fair bit".
Verstappen's team mate Alex Albon was among the front-runners in the morning and had just put the fastest time on the board in FP2 when his session came to a brutal end when he spun and heavily hit the barrier.
Hulkenberg, back for what may be two races, looked like he'd never been away after lapping ninth and seventh fastest respectively for a team whose vehicle is subject to an ongoing protest over its legality.
"It's been a special, insane and wild 24 hours, but it's all worth it", said the German driver.
On a very hot day in central England, the air temperature was 35 degrees Celsius and the track 48 as the second session delivered dramatic and unexpected action in front of empty grandstands and campsites.
Alexander Albon had a disappointing qualifying, for the second time in a row he didn't make it into the top 10.
"We will keep working but overall the vehicle looked and felt better today".
"We've definitely made a step as a team". "We expected worse coming into today but the vehicle feels good and it was hooked up straight away from the first lap in FP1".
"The auto was hooked up straight away".
"Obviously I'm pretty sure the Mercedes are hiding a lot so we'll be watching them tomorrow but otherwise on our side the vehicle feels more balanced and I think we have a better understanding of it".