Monaco, 15th December - Michael Schumacher picked up his 2001 World Championship trophy at the FIA prize-giving awards ceremony in Monaco last night. It was his first public appearance since Tutte le Ferrari at Monza in late October - but the start of a busy weekend which will include appearances in Maranello and Bologna.
Looking fit and relaxed, the four time World Champion walked on stage to tumultuous applause to picked up the tall silver and gold trophy that already has his signature inscribed on it three times. Beside him stood Jean Todt, Ferrari's team principal, who was receiving the FIA's Constuctors' championship award.
While the 400-strong audience included the winners in truck racing, karting, sports, GTs, F3000 and rallying, there were many personalities from within the World of motors sport and outside it. These were topped by Prince Alberto of Monaco, while Keke Rosberg, 1982 World Champion, was present, as was former World Rally champion, and now European MP Ari Vatanen. Max Mosley, president of the FIA was the host, and he was accompanied by FOA president Bernie Ecclestone. Team principals included Sir Frank Williams with BMW's Gerhard Berger. Rally supremo and former Benetton team principal David Richards was also present.
The Ferrari presentation began with a pit stop for a miniature Ferrari F2001 - with some of the race team on hand, helped out by dancers kitted out in Ferrari team overalls. After the miniature car disappeared, the girls put on a spectacular floor show - which ended with an explosion and the sudden appearance of a live-sized Grand Prix Ferrari.
Apart from Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello had flown in from Brazil to be on hand to collect his award for third in the Formula One World Championship, watched by Ross Brawn and his wife, and former Ferrari press officer Claudio Berro, who will soon be moving on to work for Maserati.
But there were other awards for Ferrari last night. Italy's Marco Zadra was given the FIA's SR1 Sports Car champion's award which he won in the Ferrari 333SP and the winning team was BMW Scuderia Italia, represented by team principal Augusto Mensi.
Winning N-GT was JMB Competition's Ferrari 360 Modena, accompanied by team principal Jean Michel Bouresche and his drivers David Terrien from France and Christian Pescatori from Italy.
All in all, it was a slick, glittering occasion - which befits the prize-giving awards for the FIA's major awards.