Coletti appeared to be able to survive everything that Dillmann could throw at him, but on his penultimate run through the final complex he made an error that undid all his good work and allowed Dillmann to finally pounce decisively and take third place relatively easily. Coletti was left somewhat flustered and unprepared for how close the threat from Leimer now was, and two corners later he drifted slightly wide which encouraged the Swiss driver to poke his nose down the inside of a left-hander. Contact ensued, and Coletti ended up off in the gravel at the side of the track banging his steering wheel in frustration, the late retirement dropping him from a battle over third to a final result of 21st in a matter of seconds - a big blow for the championship leader, although at least his closest rivals in the points standings were also having a less than stellar time of it.
Dillmann was by now far too far off the back of Bird and Richelmi who headed him to the line some nine seconds up the road. However, in a Keystone Kops moment of confusion the top three ended up parking in the old Silverstone pit lane complex halfway around the circuit rather than at the new facility where the podium presentations were due to be held. That meant that the medical car had to be dispatched to ferry the top three to where they were meant to be, while everyone was left tapping their feet waiting for the guests of honour to show up.
Leimer survived his clash with Coletti to claim fourth place ahead of Hilmer Motorsport's Jon Lancaster, with Jolyon Palmer finishing in sixth ahead of Barwa Addax driver Rio Haryanto. Further back, James Calado's home feature race did not go according to plan after he was forced off-track on lap 9 while trying to ward off Hilmer's Robin Frijns, and he then clashed with fellow Brit Lancaster mid-race which had tipped the ART into a spin at turn 6. Calado rejoined and battled his way back into the points in ninth place by the finish, but he missed out on the reverse grid pole which went instead to Racing Engineering's Julian Leal after Coletti's late retirement boosted him up a place to eighth at the line.
However, the Calado/Lancaster collision along with the Coletti/Leimer incident were both marked for post-race review by the stewards, along with an early incident between Kevin Ceccon and EQ8 Caterham Racing's Alexander Rossi who finished in tenth place just behind Calado. The adjudications could yet rewrite the race results and final outcome of the Silverstone feature race.
However it shapes out, all will be known by Sunday morning when the 21-lap sprint race gets underway at 9.35am.
Full race results are available