Hamilton and Webber make the break
Red Bull boss Christian Horner dubbed race-winner Lewis Hamilton the luckiest man in Belgium on Sunday, but Mark Webber could equally have claimed the accolade.
The pair were certainly among the happiest.
While Red Bull's rugged Australian ceded the lead in the Formula One championship to his McLaren rival, second place was a big result for Webber on a day when three other title contenders failed to score.
Hamilton has the upper hand, and the man with the iron grip will not let go easily, but Webber staked his claim to be the main adversary and has shown he will be a tough nut to crack.
Only three points separate the pair, almost nothing in a scoring system that gives 25 for a win, with six races left.
More significantly, team mate Sebastian Vettel is 28 points adrift of Webber after taking out McLaren's world champion Jenson Button while they were second and third in the race.
Button is 35 points off Hamilton's lead and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who also retired from the race, 41.
The Belgian breakaway could prove a defining moment in the title chase, even if nobody was willing to call it as a two-man race just yet.
"You've seen in the last few races how quickly things can change," said Hamilton.
"Clearly for me, my closest rival in the championship is Mark in terms of points but I still think the championship is open."
Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, was fortunate that he only brushed the tyre wall when he skidded across the gravel on the slippery circuit while leading late in the race.
"If that barrier had been one metre closer, he'd have been sitting watching the rest of the race from there but you've got to ride your luck sometimes," said Horner.
Hamilton's skill shone through the rain while Webber, despite a nightmare start that sent him from pole to sixth place on the first lap, was ultimately rewarded for doing everything right in the ever-changing conditions.
The Australian is in the form of his life, making the most of every opportunity that comes his way. He was favoured by the weather in qualifying and helped by the errors of others in the race.
Vettel's blunder was a big bonus and Webber cashed in further when Poland's Robert Kubica made a mess of his pitstop and lost second place for Renault.
"Mark drove an excellent race," said Horner. "He kept it together at a track that we always expected before coming here was going to be McLaren territory. To come away with a second place is very, very valuable points for him.
"In all honesty, we didn't expect to be in the lead at the top of the hill anyway with the horsepower deficit that we have," he added.
Horner said the next race at Monza, the Italian Grand Prix that ranks as the fastest on the calendar, was likely to be Red Bull's toughest of the season.
"If we can get through Monza in a similar situation, then hopefully we are coming back to tracks that know will suit our package," he said.
Webber will have to keep Hamilton in his sights but the pressure will be on Vettel, now seriously in danger of being forced into a supporting role after three races without scoring.
Button equally needs to take points off Hamilton, no easy feat, to stay in the mix.
Then come Ferrari, nursing their wounds once again as they prepare for their home race.
"The situation in both championships is certainly more difficult but it is still not impossible for us to reach our targets," team boss Stefano Domenicali said.
"For those with short memories, I remember that three years ago we found ourselves in a much worse situation and we all know how it went," he added, referring to Kimi Raikkonen snatching the 2007 title from Hamilton in the last race by a single point.
By Alan Baldwin, Reuters