Mika Hakkinen led David Coulthard home for a McLaren one-two at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday after Ferrari's Michael Schumacher spun out in a first corner collision.
Schumacher's lead in the Formula One championship was trimmed to six points over Coulthard, competing in the 100th grand prix of his career.
The result left the title race wide open again after Schumacher started the season with three straight wins. The German has 56 points, Coulthard 50 and world champion Hakkinen, who claimed his 16th grand prix victory on Sunday, 48.
Hakkinen's result left him far more confident of a third successive title after a slow start to the year.
"I am delighted that after working with the team we were able to get back up to the speed that I have been used to," he declared. "I am definitely optimistic about the rest of the season, and the fight for the title is not over yet.
"There are seven races to go and there is no point getting stressed about what is going to happen, but from now on it is going to get tougher for each driver."
McLaren forged six points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' standings despite Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who was also hit during the first lap incident, finishing third for the Italian team.
BAR's Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was fourth, ahead of Briton Jenson Button in the Williams and Finn Mika Salo in the Sauber.
Both McLaren drivers got away cleanly at the start and led into the first corner but Schumacher was tapped from the rear by BAR's late-braking Brazilian driver Ricardo Zonta.
The German spun around and was then hit by Italian Jarno Trulli in a Jordan. They and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, who was also involved in his Benetton, retired.
The incident brought out the safety car for one lap and, when racing resumed, Hakkinen immediately pulled clear from Coulthard until his pit-stop at the start of lap 38.
"When I was heading for turn two I saw the yellow flags and I was a bit surprised," said Hakkinen. "Next lap I saw a lot of cars in the gravel so I realised what happened."
Hakkinen's stop handed the lead to Coulthard until the Briton's pit visit three laps later. Hakkinen was then instructed by his team not to push the car too much and he finished 12.5 seconds ahead.
"I was quite happy with the outcome of the first lap," declared Coulthard. "I could have turned what was an easy six points into maybe nothing if we were really battling hard on the track. I was quite comfortable today to accept the six points.
"After 10 laps the race was long over because that was when I decided there was no point in risking anything."
Barrichello said he had been lucky to remain in the race after the first corner.
"I went on the gravel and I was lucky to survive then and really I am lucky to finish third. The car was almost undriveable until we came to the pitstop and we made a few adjustments."
Schumacher had hoped the race would be stopped after he crashed out but "the marshalls did a very good job unfortunately in cleaning the circuit."
"It hurts obviously if you feel that the race could be stopped, then you could just jump in the other car and you have a second go. But that's the way it goes."
Schumacher said Zonta had "over-estimated his ability" and he would be seeking a "quiet word" with him.
Zonta in turn claimed that both Ferraris slowed too much as they followed the McLarens into the first corner. "They stopped completely and I wasn't able to step on the brakes that heavily," he said. "I just couldn't stop."
The Prosts of Frenchman Jean Alesi and German Nick Heidfeld collided on lap 43, with Alesi driving into his team mate's car in a disastrous race for the troubled team.
font face="Courier New"/font