Saturday 13th December 2008
"I'm number one," proclaimed new Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton after finally collecting his title trophy.
Hamilton has had to wait almost six weeks to get his hands on the silverware following a thrilling conclusion to the 2008 F1 season in Brazil.
It was on November 2 that the 23-year-old clinched his maiden world championship, claiming the title on the penultimate lap of the final race of the season at Interlagos, pipping Ferrari's Felipe Massa by just a single point.
It was arguably the most dramatic conclusion to a world championship since the inaugural season back in 1950.
The denouement to a campaign that started on Hamilton's 23rd birthday on January 7 with the launch of the McLaren car that propelled him to glory unfolded in front of 585 specially-invited guests at the FIA Gala Dinner in Monte Carlo.
An hour long presentation heralded the champions in karting, regional rally, European rally cross, truck racing, historic rally, GT, the World Touring Car Championship, and the World Rally Championship, before finally concluding with F1.
A five-minute video montage began with footage and comments from Hamilton interlaced with those of his all-time hero in Ayrton Senna during his glory days.
There followed dramatic scenes from various stages of the season, before the curtain finally arose on Hamilton standing alongside his suspended McLaren, with its nose pointing to the floor.
The thrilled Briton said: "This year has been a very special one in my life, the fulfilment of a dream I have had since childhood.
"It is the conclusion of an ambition that has taken me and my family on an amazing journey
"The fact that I have the drivers' world championship trophy in my hand makes me so proud, and it's testament to the great determination and spirit that has helped me get here.
"Tonight has been an incredible evening, so very special.
"To be here with the Prince (Albert of Monaco) and my family, is again another very overwhelming experience.
"As you can imagine, it was a very emotional moment for me to be standing there holding the trophy - I am number one."
Hamilton will now take an extended break before finally returning to the cockpit of next season's car early in the New Year.