Chilton and Valsecchi had to react and duly came in on lap 13, with Chilton opting for a rear-only change of medium tyres to stay in front of Valsecchi who was having to change from a full set of options to a new set of primes. That put Chilton temporarily down to seventh place, with Venezuela GP Lazarus' Sergio Canamasas getting under everyone's feet after getting himself out of position on the track because of receiving a drive-thru penalty for not respecting track limits early in the race.
Not having stopped yet, Gutiérrez was left 4s ahead of Stefano Coletti and Julian Leal a further 9s astray at the front of the field, with Trummer, Melker and Richelmi also opting to stay out ahead of Chilton. All six had started on primes and were stretching them as far as possible, which had allowed Gutiérrez to pull out a lead of almost 20 seconds over Chilton and Valsecchi at the midpoint of the race.
On lap 21, Chilton reached the tail end of the leading pack and passed Richelmi for sixth place, which seemed to ring the alarm bells for the stay-out leaders: Gutiérrez, Coletti and Melker were in next time around, and Gutiérrez exited alongside Nathanael Berthon running in 11th place down into turn 1. Despite locking up his tyres into the corner, Gutiérrez simply couldn't hold the position from the Racing Engineering car. Further back, Coletti exited in 18th place and Melker down in 22nd; however, they would at least have the benefit of far fresher rubber in the closing laps of the race, when many cars would find their own tyres dropping off the proverbial cliff.
That boosted Chilton up to third behind Trummer and Leal, and as Chilton then tried to find his way past the Trident car he was backed up into Valsecchi, Razia and Calado, causing a fierce bettle for position to break out on lap 25. Valsecchi was just able to hold out against a concerted push from Razia who tried a bold move around the outside of Valsecchi through turn 1, and Razia finally had to concede the move and found his own hands full with Calado now hustling from behind.
Leal decided discretion was the better part of valour and hit pit lane next time around, restoring the status quo between the remaining front runners by removing the opportunity that the distraction that the slower car presented. Trummer continued to stay out over 5s ahead of Chilton before the Arden pitted on lap 29.
Tyres and tempers were starting to lose their grip as the race got down to the final ten laps. There was a coming together on lap 29 for the Ocean Racing team mates Melker and Victor Guerin which had left Guerin temporarily stopped on the grass verge; while he was there, Canamasas got spun at the same corner by the Rapax of Ricardo Teixeria. Stewards investigated the incident after the race and handed Teixeira a 30-second time penalty in lieu of an in-race drive-thru.
Despite having come in much later than the leaders and switched to the grippier supersofts, Gutiérrez locked up and ran wide out of the last corner on lap 30 which allowed a hard-charging Nasr to fly past for ninth position, the Brazilian's sights clearly set on the provisional pole for the Sunday sprint race. He got it shortly afterwards when Josef Kral suddenly lost drive in seventh place and surrendered positions to both Nathanael Berthon and Nasr before heading into the pits, but then Nasr crashed out in a turn 1 run-off eerily similar to Cecotto's earlier accident into the tyre barrier at high speed.
All of that meant that Gutiérrez was now in the provisional pole position, sandwiched between the two Racing Engineering cars of Berthon in seventh and Leimer in ninth. Up ahead, the top six had remained unchanged since the pit stops had shaken out - Chilton, Valsecchi, Razia, Calado, van der Garde and Palmer - but now Valsecchi turned up the heat on the race leader and harried Chilton for all he was worth, hoping to pressure the Carlin driver into an error on the final two laps that the Italian could capitalise on.
But Chilton was resolute and kept his composure, even as they came up fast on the slow-moving backmarker Giancarlo Serenelli in the Venezuela GP Lazarus in the final corners. Another lap and things might have been different, but as it was the Briton had it covered and claimed the chequered flag at the Hungaroring by six tenths over the DAMS driver, having driven what was to all intents and purposes the perfect, error-free race from pole position.
Full feature race results