Luiz Razia has solidified his championship lead by holding off a late challenge from title rival Davide Valsecchi to claim his fourth victory of the season in this morning's sprint race in Silverstone, fighting his way through the field to lead home the Italian and his teammate Felipe Nasr.
The win was set up when the lights went out: poleman Giedo van der Garde got a good start as the DAMS teammates squeezed each other behind him, while Johnny Cecotto made a storming start to get alongside Razia into turn one but couldn't hold on, handing the Brazilian a free run around the outside of Valsecchi at Bridge for P3.
Less than a lap later and Razia converted that to P2 with a repeat performance on Nasr as he head off after van der Garde: the Dutchman was helpless to stop the Brazilian's march into the lead at the chicane, with Razia storming off into the distance on the front straight. The battle now switched to behind the top four, with Cecotto and Nigel Melker switching position time and again as they wore down the laps.
But up at the front van der Garde was starting the long, slow march rearwards as a grained, flat-spotted front tyre was playing havoc with the Dutchman's ability to brake and putting a target on his rear that his rivals were only too happy to shoot at: he dropped further and further back down the field until an inevitable pitstop halted his charge completely.
Gutiérrez was now on a charge, and a brave move inside Melker on lap 12 gave the Mexican a free run at Cecotto, while one lap later Valsecchi eased by his teammate for a run at his title rival for the win. The DAMS pair were heading in opposite directions as the Italian was eating time out of Razia's lead lap after lap, but the Brazilian was heading backwards towards the Cecotto/Gutiérrez fight.
The Mexican was looking for another podium with two laps remaining when a committed run up the inside at the chicane gave him P4 and a close up of Nasr's rear wing, but a lap later he braked too late and undid his good work. On the last lap Gutiérrez was on the outside of Cecotto and the pair touched, with the Mexican veering wide and catching a dirt patch on his run back, spinning slightly and clouting the Venezuelan off track and into the barriers and breaking his own front wing as he limped towards the line.
But when the chequered flag dropped it was Razia who had enough left to hold off Valsecchi's advances for a morale boosting victory, while a distant Nasr shuffled home ahead of the battered Gutiérrez. Behind them Jolyon Palmer held his nerve after threading his way past a string of rivals to claim a strong fifth position, just ahead Nigel Melker, while behind them was an ecstatic Marcus Ericsson and Fabio Onidi, whose personal battle saw the pair fly from P21 and 22 on the grid to P7 and 8 at the end of the race.
The fight for the win saw Razia extend his newly claimed lead in the title race over Valsecchi by 165 points to 159, with Gutiérrez holding on in third on 122 points, while Calado and Chilton were unable to add to their score of 95, 2 points ahead of van der Garde. Lotus GP have stretched their lead in the teams' fight to 217 points, ahead of DAMS on 205, Arden on 169, Carlin on 122 and Racing Engineering on 110 points, with all eyes now cast forward to the resumption of battle in Hockenheim in just two weeks time.