Kimi Raikkonen came from from 17th on the grid to streak past Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap and claim a thrilling win in the Japanese GP.
But the result did not improve McLaren's position in the constructor's placing's as Renault due to Fisichella's team-mate Fernando Alonso's took third place and allowed them to by-passed McLaren.
Mark Webber finished fourth ahead of Britons Jenson Button and David Coulthard, while Michael Schumacher drove his Ferrari to seventh place with Ralf Schumacher having to settle for eighth place after starting from pole position.
In bright and blustery conditions, Ralf Schumacher got a good start from the front of the grid but Button in second was immediately passed by the Renault of Fisichella.
Montoya tangled with Jacques Villeneuve, for which the Canadian was dropped from 11th to 12th in the final results, the safety car came out until the end of the seventh lap.
Three laps later, Takuma Sato ran into Jarno Trulli, forcing the incensed Toyota driver out of the race, while Antonio Pizzonia also ran off in another incident, 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 respectively, race leader Ralf Schumacher went in for his first pit-stop on lap 13, allowing Fisichella to take the lead.
Alonso and Michael Schumacher meanwhile battled for fifth, on lap 20, the new world champion made the first of his overtaking moves, passing the former F1 champion on the outside at 180mph.
Fisichella emerged from the first bout of pit stops at the front and built a lead of almost 20 seconds ahead of Jenson Button.
Lap 32 saw Alonso and Michael Schumacher head-to-head again and the champion demonstrated why he has the title as he skipped past Schumacher's Ferrari on the outside to reclaim fifth.
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.
Raikkonen. made his final stop with eight laps left, and after re-emerging behind Fisichella, and 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 what was his third display of overtaking to move up to third.
Fisichella, at the front was held up by the back markers which allowed Raikkonen to make his move, and the final lap, Raikkonen flew past Fisichella to claim a thrilling chequared flag 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.