The star-studded FIA Gala in Monaco was a fitting finale for a dramatic season in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Not since 1986 has the championship hosted a three-way title showdown at the final round, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen taking the title in a thrilling finish.
Raikkonen said: "I am very happy to be here to receive this trophy that comes with winning the World Championship. This has always been my goal and I am particularly pleased to have achieved it in my first year with Ferrari, which is a fantastic team of people who are extraordinary, both professionally and from the human point of view.
"This victory is the result of the efforts of a group that never threw in the towel, even when all seemed lost. I also want to thank my family, my wife Jenni and everyone who has been close to me since the start of my career."
All of the top three drivers were proud of the part they played in a memorable season. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who took second place in the championship in just his first season, was appearing at the awards ceremony for the first time. He said:
"I've had a pretty amazing season. I was given such a great opportunity by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. To be on the podium at my first grand prix was a dream, but to continue that to get my first win was even more. And to be one of the three F1 drivers at the FIA Prize Giving Gala at the end of the season is a truly special moment.
"I am proud to be at the Gala representing my family and the team that I work for. It has been a pleasure racing for them this season and I couldn't have done it without their support."
Hamilton's teammate Fernando Alonso finished in third place but the two could not have been closer. They finished with the same points and the same number of wins and were separated only by virtue of Hamilton's greater number of second place finishes. Alonso said:
"This has been another exciting season because my car was competitive from start to finish. From this perspective the team did a fantastic job. Away from the track, of course, it was a more bumpy road but sometimes that's what happens in sport and I will take those lessons into next season and beyond. The main aspect for me when looking back on the season is winning another four races, including my first victory in Monza and my win in Monaco, which is always special."
The constructors championship was won by Ferrari, its seventh title in nine years. The trophy was gratefully accepted by Ferrari CEO Jean Todt. He said:
"It is a pleasure and an honour to be here today to celebrate our successes in the two Championships, which came at the end of a very unusual year. After the Japanese Grand Prix, we would never have believed that we would be attending this evening as world champions. But the bravura and talent of the team and drivers, along with a small helping hand from fate, means we are here in this guise to celebrate a fantastic season for Ferrari, embellished with nine wins and a world champion in the shape of the great driver that is Kimi Raikkonen, who has taken the title in his first year with the Scuderia."