Kimi Raikkonen stormed from 17th on the grid to overtake Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap and claim a thrilling win in the Japanese GP.
JAPANESE GP RESULT
1. K Raikkonen (McLaren)
2. G Fisichella (Renault)
3. F Alonso (Renault)
4. M Webber (Williams)
5. J Button (BAR)
6. D Coulthard (Red Bull)
7. M Schumacher (Ferrari)
8. R Schumacher (Toyota)
But Renault leapfrogged McLaren in the constructors' championship as Fisichella's team-mate Fernando Alonso completed the podium in third.
The second McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya crashed out on the opening lap after being shunted from behind.
Mark Webber was fourth ahead of Britons Jenson Button and David Coulthard.
Michael Schumacher drove his Ferrari to seventh place with Ralf Schumacher having to settle for eighth place after starting from pole position.
The finish was in keeping with the nature of a race in which the teams adopted different strategies and the lead changed hands several times.
On a bright but blustery day, Ralf Schumacher got away safely from the front of the grid but Button in second was immediately passed by the Renault of Fisichella.
After Montoya's tangle with Jacques Villeneuve, for which the Canadian was demoted from 11th to 12th in the final results, the safety car came out until the end of the seventh lap.
Three laps later, local favourite Takuma Sato smacked into Jarno Trulli, forcing the incensed Toyota driver out of the race, while Antonio Pizzonia also flew off in a separate incident.
Japan's Sato, who finished 13th, was later excluded from the race, his last for BAR-Honda.
With Alonso and Michael Schumacher powering through the field from 16th and 14th positions on the grid respectively, race leader Ralf Schumacher went in for his first pit-stop on lap 13, handing the lead to Fisichella.
Behind, Alonso and Michael Schumacher were involved in an almighty battle for fifth.
And on lap 20, the new world champion made the first of three audacious overtaking moves, passing the former king on the outside at 180mph.
As the race order settled down after the first round of pit-stops, Fisichella emerged at the front and built a lead of almost 20 seconds from Button.
On lap 32, Alonso and Michael Schumacher went head-to-head again and the Renault star demonstrated why he is the champion as he dived past Schumacher's Ferrari on the outside to reclaim fifth.
When Fisichella made his second stop on lap 37, Button led briefly but was passed by Webber in the pit lane and rejoined the race in seventh behind leader Raikkonen.
The Finn made his final stop with eight laps left, and after re-emerging behind Fisichella, Raikkonen was very soon climbing all over the back of the Renault.
Alonso, clearly enjoying the freedom of having clinched the title, stormed past Webber in another breathtaking overtaking display for third.
But the race was on up ahead as backmarkers slowed Fisichella, allowing Raikkonen to plot his move.
And after an exploratory look past the Renault on the penultimate lap, Raikkonen dived past Fisichella on the final circuit to claim a miraculous and thrilling victory for McLaren.
Japanese Grand Prix result:
1. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren 1hr 29mins 2.212 secs
2. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault 1:29:03.845
3. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:29:19.668
4. Mark Webber (Aus) Williams 1:29.24.466
5. Jenson Button (GB) BAR 1:29:31.719
6. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull 1:29:33.813
7. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:29:36.091
8 .Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:29:51.760
9. Christian Klien (Aut) Red Bull 1:29:54.137
10. Felipe Massa (Bra) Sauber 1:29:59.721
11. Jacques Villeneuve (Can) Sauber 1:30.00.433*
12. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Ferrari 1:30:02.845
13. Takuma Sato (Jap) BAR at 1 lap**
14. Tiego Monteiro (Por) Jordan at 1 lap
15. Robert Doornbos (Mon) Minardi at 2 laps
16. Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan at 2 laps
17. Christijan Albers (Ned) Minardi at 4 laps
18. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 9 laps
19 . Antonio Pizzonia (Bra) Williams 9 laps
20. Juan Pablo Montoya (Col) McLaren 0 laps.
* Villeneuve docked 25 seconds and dropped to 12th for collision with Montoya. ** Sato excluded for forcing Trulli off.