Vitaly Petrov soaked up race long pressure from title rival Nico H?lkenberg on Saturday to record his third win in as many years in Valencia after leading all the way from the second corner of the first lap all the way to the flag.

The pair eventually crossed the line together ahead of Sergio Perez, who recorded his first podium finish in the main series.

The win was set up at the start and despite Petrov's earlier fears he made a storming start from the dirty side of the track to be right with poleman H?lkenberg into the first corner. He then pressurised the German into going wide at the next turn to relinquish the lead for what proved to be the remainder of the race.

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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 he 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 H?lkenberg's 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 H?lkenberg 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, H?lkenberg's fastest lap extended his lead in the championship war to 17 points over the Russian, 68 points to 51.

To see the full race result click here