Renault's Fernando Alonso admitted Michael Schumacher had pushed him to the limit as he held on for victory at the San Marino Grand Prix.
1 F Alonso (Renault)
2 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
3 J Button (BAR)
4 A Wurz (McLaren)
5 T Sato (BAR)
6 J Villeneuve (Sauber)
7 J Trulli (Toyota)
8 N Heidfeld (Williams)
"It was probably one of the best fights I have had. I knew Michael was more than a second faster than me," he said.
"My only chance was to hold him up a bit in the middle of the corners and then put on the throttle a little bit earlier. It worked well.
"We had two or three corners where we were very close but I did my maximum."
Championship leader Alonso insisted he had never thought about settling for second as he came under intense pressure from Schumacher's Ferrari in the closing laps.
"I was always hoping for the win," said the Spaniard, whose third victory in a row gave him an 18-point lead in the drivers' standings - and extended his lead over Schumacher to 26.
"After [early race leader] Kimi Raikkonen retired I had only one picture for the race, winning, and I was ready to fight for it."
The Spaniard crossed the line just 0.2 seconds ahead of world champion Schumacher.
Schumacher had taken advantage of the distraction of backmarkers to snatch second place from BAR's Jenson Button earlier in the race.
And Alonso tried to avoid getting caught up in traffic as he duelled with the German for victory.
"In the last 10 laps I had a Red Bull and a Williams in front of me and I was hoping I wouldn't catch them," said Alonso.
"I thought maybe I would lose downforce and Michael could overtake me.
"In the slow chicanes and corners I was braking more than normal just to protect the rear tyres and keep the gap."
Jenson Button had a nervous six-hour wait before his third place was finally confirmed by the stewards after his car was weighed both with and without fuel.
"Immediately following the end of the race the car was weighed in the configuration it had finished and was above the minimum weight limit," the stewards said in a statement.
"It was subsequently drained of fuel and then re-weighed and found to be underweight."
Button's podium was BAR's first of the season after three races without points.