Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix with a commanding performance from pole to cut Max Verstappen's world championship lead to eight points and set up a thrilling end to an unforgettable Formula One season.
Mercedes' seven-time champion comfortably held off his Red Bull rival under the Losail circuit's lights to leave the battle for the F1 drivers' crown delicately poised with only two races remaining.
The drivers now head to the street circuit in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on December 5, before the climax of the season at the newly-modified Yas Marina Circuit and the season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
And after an unprecedented eighth world title appeared to be slipping from Hamilton's grasp after Verstappen's wins in the USA and Mexico, it is the 36-year-old Briton rather than the 12-year-younger pretender who has the momentum.
When and where are the last races of the F1 season?
The penultimate race is the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on December 5, followed by the final race, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 12.
Who can win the F1 drivers' crown?
The Dutch driver can clinch his first championship in Saudi Arabia if results go his way.
A victory, worth 25 points, and the extra point for the fastest lap for Verstappen means Hamilton would need to finish fifth to keep the title race alive. Even if the Briton was second and claimed 18 points, Verstappen would head to the final race in Abu Dhabi with a commanding lead.
But a win for Hamilton in Saudi Arabia with Verstappen second would set up a winner-takes-all showdown at Yas Marina.
David Beckham and other celebrities at Qatar Grand Prix - in pictures
F1 driver standings
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 9 wins, 351.5 points
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 7, 343.5
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1, 203
4. Sergio Perez, Red Bull 1, 190
5. Lando Norris, McLaren, 0, 153
6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 0, 152
7. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 0, 145.5
8. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, 1, 105
9. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, 0, 92
10. Fernando Alonso, Alpine, 0, 77
11. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, 1, 60
12. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, 0, 43
13. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, 0, 34
14. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, 0, 20
15. George Russell, Williams, 0, 16
16. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, 0, 10
17. Nicholas Latifi, Williams, 0, 7
18. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 0, 1
19. Mick Schumacher, Haas, 0, 0
20. Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo 0, 0
21. Nikita Mazepin Haas, 0, 0
Who can win the F1 constructors' championship?
Mercedes have the edge in this with 546.5 points, and Red Bull on 541.5 points, with two races to go.