Hamilton, Mercedes crowned at FIA Gala

Hamilton and Wolff
Hamilton and Wolff

At the end of a captivating season of motor sport action across all disciplines and at all levels, the FIA last night honored its championship-winning stars at a glittering Prize Giving ceremony in the stunning surrounds of one of France’s most iconic, and most fittingly regal locations, the incredible Palace of Versailles.

The Opera Royal (first opened in 1770 on the occasion of the day of the Dauphin’s marriage to Marie-Antoinette), was the beautiful setting as the FIA’s racing royals were presented with the sport’s crown jewels – championship trophies.

Highlight of the evening was the presentation of the FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship Trophy to Lewis Hamilton for the fourth time in his career. The Mercedes driver enjoyed a truly stellar season, taking nine victories and breaking the all-time pole position record of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher to beat arch-rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. Along the way he also helped Mercedes to a fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship win.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]In rallying, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia collected the FIA World Rally Championship title. But while it was the fifth consecutive time the French pairing have visited the FIA Prize Giving ceremony, it was perhaps the sweetest.

Last year they were left without a drive following the withdrawal of their dominant VW team and signed with unfancied privateer outfit M-Sport. In the end though, skill and determination on both sides won out, with the UK outfit taking the teams’ title to match Ogier and Ingrassia’s achievement.

The evening also saw FIA World Endurance champions Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley receive their trophies, while their Porsche team collected its final LMP1 manufacturer’s trophy before bowing out of the category.

There were also new global trophies up for grabs in the FIA WEC, with the LMGTE Pro category being elevated to World Championship status in 2017. And it was Ferrari that emerged as the team champions, with the Italian squad’s pairing of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi emerged victorious.

Elsewhere, there were first-time world title wins for FIA World Rallycross ace Johan Kristofferson and for World Touring Car driver Thed Bjork, meaning that Sweden was twice honored on the night.

The FIA’s future-focused, all-electric 2016/17 Formula E Championship was won by Lucas Di Grassi who took the title at the end of a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire fight with defending champion Sebastien Buemi. The Swiss racer took six wins to Di Grassi’s two, but the Brazilian was a model of consistency, scoring five further podiums and three pole positions to edge the battle as Buemi suffered a series of second half mishaps and a brace of missed races due to other racing commitments.

Meanwhile, The President’s Awards went to F4 racer Bill Monger for his amazing recovery from life-changing injuries sustained in April, and for Jean Charles Decaux, who in partnership with the FIA has brought life-saving road safety messages to millions around the world thanks to freeing up some of his firm’s outdoor advertising space.

Dutch F1 superstar Max Verstappen won the Personality of the Year for an amazing third time, Action of the Year went to the WRC’s Esapekka Lappi and F2 champ Charles Leclerc took the Rookie of the Year prize.

The stars of the future were also honored in Paris, with champions from across the FIA racing pyramid being presented with their trophies. In Formula 3, Briton Lando Norris, took an emphatic title win in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, scoring nine wins from 30 races across 10 event weekends.

In Formula 4, which represents the first rung on the FIA single-seater ladder, the winners from 12 championships (Australia, Britain, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latin America, North East Europe, the UAE, Spain, the US and South East Asia) were awarded their trophies.

CIK-FIA World Karting Champions Dexter Patterson, Paolo de Conto and Danny Keirle were also honored.

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