Petrov wins Valencia feature race
22 August 2009 – Russian's Vitaly Petrov made the most of a mistake by pole sitter Nico Hülkenberg to move in front and clinch the first race victory of the weekend in Valencia. The Campos Barwa Addax driver passed his rival on the second corner of the first lap and closes in on the championship leader in the process.
The win was set up at the start: despite Petrov's earlier fears he made a storming start from the dirty side of the track to be right with poleman Hülkenberg into the first corner, before pressuring the German into going wide at the next turn to relinquish the lead for what proved to be the remainder of the race.
Perez, who made an equally impressive getaway to force his way by Lucas di Grassi, also took the opportunity presented to him to get alongside the German, but had to give way a few corners later, while Alvaro Parente and Roldan Rodriguez looked in vain similarly for a way by the Brazilian.
With overtaking at a premium on the fast, technical circuit all thoughts turned to pitstop strategy as the lead pair streaked away from the rest of the field. Edoardo Mortara, taking advantage of a great start to move up five spots from 13th on the grid, decided to risk even more by taking an early stop, but it was Hülkenberg stop on Lap 11 and Petrov's one later that everyone was waiting for.
The Russian had a torrid first lap back as his rival, on warmer tyres, threw everything he had and more at his rival, who lived up to his imperious reputation as a rock solid defender, forcing Hülkenberg into using his tyres violently every time they came to the final turn, the main overtaking spot on the circuit.
Round and round they went, with no let up in the battle until, at last, the chequered flag dropped and Petrov was the victor by just 0.3 seconds. Perez was next, some 16 seconds behind the pair, while di Grassi lost out on fourth when he stopped a few laps from the end with suspected hydraulic issues. Parente claimed the spot the hard way, fighting back from a slower stop to force Roldan Rodriguez backwards after running too deep off the bridge.
Mortara crossed the line in sixth after a strong run to the flag, staying out of the trouble behind him, while Luca Filippi made up for his qualifying crash by finishing seventh from 14th on the grid, just ahead of Pastor Maldonado, who spun on the first lap and fought all afternoon for the final point. But while Petrov won the battle, Hülkenberg fastest lap extended his lead in the championship war to 17 points over the Russian, 68 points to 51.