Michael Schumacher took a huge step towards a record sixth world title as he came out on top in a thrilling duel with Juan Pablo Montoya to claim victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
1 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
2 J Montoya (Williams)
3 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
4 K Raikkonen (McLaren)
5 M Gene (Williams)
6 J Villeneuve (BAR)
7 M Webber (Jaguar)
8 F Alonso (Renault)
Schumacher produced a flawless drive in front of Ferrari's home fans at Monza to take the chequered flag by five seconds and end a winless run stretching back five races to Canada in June.
Rubens Barrichello did his bit for his Ferrari team-mate by holding off McLaren's title challenger Kimi Raikkonen to take third.
The result leaves Schumacher three points ahead of Montoya and seven clear of Raikkonen in the drivers' standings with just two races to go.
Marc Gene, who was standing in for Ralf Schumacher in the other Williams, took fifth place ahead of BAR's Jacques Villeneuve to keep Williams firmly in the hunt for the constructors' title.
But the day belonged to Ferrari, who announced their return to form in a race which was effectively decided on the first lap as Schumacher and Montoya went wheel to wheel in a dramatic start.
Schumacher beat Montoya to the first corner and stood firm as the Williams and Ferrari came within inches of a collision through the first few chicanes.
The fast-starting Jarno Trulli almost took advantage from third but his race ended soon after when an electronic problem forced him to pull over.
Renault's nightmare start continued when Hungarian Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso was forced to pit after running into Jos Verstappen's Minardi as he tried to avoid Justin Wilson's stationary Jaguar on the grid.
Cristiano Da Matta was another early retirement when a left rear puncture sent his Toyota spinning off the circuit and Wilson retired with gearbox trouble.
1 Michael Schumacher 82pts
2 Juan Pablo Montoya 79
3 Kimi Raikkonen 75
4 Ralf Schumacher 58
5 Fernando Alonso 55
6 Rubens Barrichello 55
Schumacher pulled steadily away from Montoya and was the first of the two to pit on lap 15, a smooth stop allowing him to stay ahead when the Colombian went in one lap later.
Montoya started to reel in the Ferrari and had the gap down to less than one second when he went in for his second stop.
But Schumacher's greater fuel load allowed him to stay out a couple of laps longer and conserve his lead as he emerged from the pits fractionally ahead.
Montoya tried to mount another charge but his challenge stalled after he was held up as he tried to lap Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, leaving Schumacher clear to celebrate his fifth win of the season - his 50th for Ferrari.
Mark Webber came in seventh for Jaguar and Alonso recovered from his early crash to claim the final point.
David Coulthard's miserable year for McLaren continued as he retired from fifth position on lap 46.
And Britain's Jenson Button lost ground at the start after qualifying seventh before being forced to retire his BAR with gear selection problems on lap 24.