Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso held his nerve to keep a charging Michael Schumacher at bay and win a thrilling San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.
While Alonso celebrated his third win in a row and the French manufacturer's fourth out of four, he was pushed to the limit by the seven-times champion he hopes to dethrone.
Schumacher's charge from a seemingly hopeless 13th place on the starting grid -- the result of a mistake in final qualifying -- to second in front of Ferrari's home fans was nothing short of astonishing.
Blasting out fastest lap after fastest lap, the German's red Ferrari harried Alonso's blue Renault nose-to-wheel to the chequered flag in the closest race yet this year.
Time and again over the last 12 laps he tried to find a way past and each time the 23-year-old Spaniard closed the door on the wily veteran, winning by just 0.2 of a second.
"It was probably one of the best fights I have had," said Alonso, who leads the drivers' standings with 36 points from Toyota's Jarno Trulli with 18.
"I knew Michael was a second faster than me and my only chance was hold him up a little bit in the corner to leave that little space for the straights and it worked well.
"I was ready to fight in the last few laps. I really wanted the victory here."
Schumacher preferred to dwell on what might have been.
"I'm happy in one way for the race but naturally disappointed about what happened to me this morning," said the 36-year-old German, who now has 10 points in the title race.
"If you think about what would have happened if (this morning's mistake) hadn't happened then, well..."
Briton Jenson Button, second at Imola last year after starting on pole, showed BAR were back on the fast track with third place and the Honda-powered team's first points of the season.
Austrian Alexander Wurz, standing-in for injured Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren, was fourth with BAR's Japanese Takuma Sato fifth.
Canadian former champion Jacques Villeneuve, his place at Sauber a subject of constant speculation after a poor start to the season, took his first point since leaving BAR in 2003 with sixth place.
Italian Trulli was seventh and his team mate Ralf Schumacher was eighth.
There was major disappointment for McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who threw his steering wheel across the team garage in anger after retiring. He had led from pole position until his car slowed on the ninth lap.
Alonso's Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella also retired for the third race in a row.
Alonso, ever more the heir apparent, and Schumacher made it an afternoon to remember for all the right reasons however.
The Spaniard showed that he has the backbone and determination to go all the way while Schumacher proved that Ferrari were back where they belong.
The new Ferrari F2005, which failed to score a point on its rushed debut at the last race in Bahrain three weeks ago, looked every bit a winner.
It was the first time since 1998 a that anyone outside the Schumacher family had won at Imola, Michael having won for five of the last six years and his brother Ralf winning in 2001.