As attention turns towards the first round of the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship in Melbourne later this month, Lewis Hamilton brought the curtain down on his hugely successful 2008 campaign in the best way possible.
As a guest of Her Majesty The Queen, Lewis visited Buckingham Palace in London today to be officially awarded an MBE. While the announcement was first made in the Queen's New Year's Honours List back in December, Lewis joined around 120 others as Her Majesty officially oversaw the investiture in the Palace's State Ballroom this morning.
Afterwards, an elated Lewis said: "To go to the Palace today and meet Her Majesty The Queen was an incredible experience, following what has been an intense, exciting and unbelievable 12 months of my life.
"I'm so proud of the reception I have received from everybody in the United Kingdom. People's enthusiasm and support – even during the tough times – really kept me going and helped me through an extremely demanding year.
"To be recognised alongside the people who make an outstanding and selfless contribution to society, is truly humbling and I'd like to thank Her Majesty The Queen, her Government and the British public for bestowing this honour on me. I'd also like to thank my family for sharing my dream and helping to make it a reality. Last but not least, I'd also like to thank my team – Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – for taking a chance on me when I was 13 years old. I still can't believe I'm in Formula 1 and that I'm now a World Champion – it's incredible."