Fernando Alonso rounded off his championship year by taking victory in China. He did so from pole position and fended off title rival Kimi Raikkonen in a year in which the Michael Schumacher monopoly on the sport had been destroyed.
Indeed, it was Ralf Schumacher who joined them on the podium after a solid drive to third for Toyota.
Alonso led from Giancarlo Fisichella, Raikkonen and Montoya until the Colombian ran over a drain cover. He pitted for a damage inspection while the safety car was deployed so that the offending cover - and others - could be inspected. Montoya pitted a few laps later with an engine problem said to be unrelated to his drainage issues.
The safety car negated Alonso's lead but he was able to maintain track position after he, Fisichella and Raikkonen stopped. The order stayed the same and the gaps opened up until Narain Karthikeyan had a sizeable crash in his Jordan that brought out the safety car again.
Only when traffic pitted ahead of him did Raikkonen get a clear road and up his pace but he was unable to catch Alonso who rounded out his season in style. Raikkonen had been quick all weekend but not when it counted. Instead, he felt it took a long time for the car to get up to speed and that did the damage as far as a win was concerned.
There was another reason he could not catch Alonso: Fisichella. The Italian had badly delayed Raikkonen as they drove into the pit lane and the stewards handed Fisichella a drive-through penalty. That dropped him to fourth behind Ralf Schumacher.
Renault had found speed since Brazil and Alonso was elated. "I didn't think anything could be as good as winning the championship but seeing everyone celebrating was a special feeling. There is only one thing to say to the team: thank you."