Renault's Fernando Alonso cashed in on Kimi Raikkonen's misfortune to win the German Grand Prix on Sunday and take a huge step towards becoming Formula One's youngest champion.
Raikkonen's hopes were left in tatters after his McLaren slowed, emitted a puff of smoke and came to a halt with hydraulic failure on lap 35 after the Finn had led by a comfortable margin.
Alonso inherited the lead, as he has done before in a championship that seemingly has the 23-year-old Spaniard's name written all over it, to cruise to his sixth win in 12 races by 22.3 seconds from McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Renault driver stretched his lead over Raikkonen, still second in the drivers' standings, to a hefty 36 points with seven races remaining.
"It's a fantastic day, perfect for me," he said. "I did my perfect race."
Montoya did his best to make amends for spinning off the track in Saturday's qualifying by racing through the field from the back of the grid to secure second place.
"It's a bit frustrating because based on my qualifying pace and the fuel we had, I should have won the race," said the Colombian.
"I made a mistake yesterday but I brought it back to the podium from 20 to second so it's not that bad."
Briton Jenson Button took third place for BAR, overtaking Ferrari's local favourite Michael Schumacher on the circuit's tight hairpin for his first podium finish of the season after being disqualified at Imola in April.
"It was a good race, a lot of fun and nice to be actually battling with someone," said Button. "It's been a good weekend for us."
Schumacher, who grabbed a record equalling 11th win of the season here last year, looked like winning a dogfight with Alonso's team mate Giancarlo Fisichella for fourth place.
But the Italian slid past the seven-times world champion with little more than a single lap remaining to boost Renault's constructors' title hopes.
Renault now have 117 points to McLaren's 95.
Toyota's Ralf Schumacher was sixth behind his brother and Briton David Coulthard took seventh for Red Bull. Sauber's Brazilian Felipe Massa claimed the last point in eighth.
A typically messy Hockenheim start resulted in three cars being pushed off the track and effectively ended all hope of points for Williams's Australian driver Mark Webber, Italian Toyota driver Jarno Trulli and BAR's Takuma Sato, who all had to pit on the first lap.
Raikkonen, who started on pole, moved across to block a charging Alonso as they turned into the first corner and with his position secured raced out into 5.2 second lead at the end of the 11th lap.
Alonso pitted first and the Finn had a 33 second cushion when he finally refuelled on lap 25, coming out of the pit lane comfortably in the lead.
But once again the unreliability of the undeniably quick McLaren came back to haunt the Mercedes-powered team.
"What can I say," said the Finn, who has yet to finish a German Grand Prix in five attempts. "It's always terrible to retire, whilst in the lead with a good gap to the number two car is even worse.
"This is the worst thing that could have happened as it looked like the race was in the bag...there is still a mathematical chance I could win the drivers' championship but it's getting difficult."
His departure left Alonso with the simplest of jobs to steer his car to victory for the seventh time in his career.
"I thought that second place was good enough but obviously again after another retirement from Kimi, the race was a little bit boring being in first place with such a big gap," said the Spaniard.
Dutch Minardi driver Richard Doornbos finished 18th on his Formula One debut, which featured a crash with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve on lap four and a 10 second penalty for replacing a wheel and refuelling on the same pit stop.
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 87
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren 51
3. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari 47
4. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) McLaren 34
5. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Ferrari 31
6. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 31
7. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault 30
8. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Toyota 26
9. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) Williams 25
10. Mark Webber (Australia) Williams 22
11. David Coulthard (Britain) Red Bull 19
12. Jenson Button (Britain) BAR 15
13. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Sauber 8
14. Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) Jordan 6
15. Alexander Wurz (Austria) McLaren 6
16. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) Sauber 6
17. Narain Karthikeyan (India) Jordan 5
18. Christijan Albers (Netherlands) Minardi 4
19. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) McLaren 4
20. Christian Klien (Austria) Red Bull 4
21. Patrick Friesacher (Austria) Minardi 3
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy) Red Bull 1
23. Takuma Sato (Japan) BAR 0
24. Robert Doornbos (Netherlands) Jordan 0