Vitaly Petrov maintained the Barwa Addax team's outstanding start to the 2009 GP2 season by dominating the first of two races at Istanbul Park, brushing off the scorching conditions to claim victory by 6.5secs over Luca Filippi and Davide Valsecchi.
The win was set up on the second lap when Filippi bravely threw his car inside race leader Nico Hülkenberg at the final corner. The pair narrowly avoided touching, but both slid wide, giving Petrov a narrow, but clear, line through and into the lead by the end of the front straight, with the Italian slotting in behind him.
The front two made their excuses and left the rest of the field to their madness, with cars overtaking each other constantly up and down the remainder of the field, which appeared to be running side-by-side for much the race.
Andreas Zuber looked to be the only other driver able to escape the melee when he too slid past Hülkenberg, handing the German a large problem in the shape of Alvaro Parente. Ultimately, however, the Portuguese driver pushed too hard, spinning into retirement at turn eight and prompting a safety car period just after Filippi and Zuber had narrowly avoided each other as they escaped from the pits.
The key outcome of the safety car, however, was that Petrov was given a free pass in the pits that allowed him to hold on to the top spot ahead of the chasing pair as he set about rebuilding his lead once again.
The second half of the race proved to be less fruitful for Zuber, who dropped like a stone over the last few laps to fall out of the points altogether. Filippi, however, held on for a strong second place, while Valsecchi took advantage of a safety car pit-stop to leapfrog from tenth on the grid and push his countryman all the way to the flag.
Alberto Valerio, after a strong qualifying performance, drove a mature race to slot into fourth place, one ahead of a disappointed Hülkenberg, while the German's ART team-mate Pastor Maldonado, iSport's Giedo van der Garde and Super Nova's Javier Villa rounded out the points, the latter frustrating former team Racing Engineering by not succumbing to pressure from Racing Engineering's Lucas di Grassi. The Spaniard will now start from pole in Sunday's sprint - a position he has converted into victory before.
Petrov's win, along with a fastest lap inherited from the luckless Karun Chandhok - who finished a lowly 14th - was enough to propel the Russian into second place in the championship table, his 29 points just two behind his team-mate Romain Grosjean, who retired from a second successive race. Erstwhile second place man Jérôme d'Ambrosio clings on to third, having also failed to score, with Maldonado, Hülkenberg and Filippi lining up behind him.