Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton won his second trophy of the AUTOSPORT Awards evening as he was named International Racing Driver of the Year.
Hamilton, who also won the award in 2007 and '08, took 11 victories on his way to the 2014 F1 world championship, edging out Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in a closely fought and often tense title fight.
"I had an interesting time with Nico through the year. I met Nico in '97, when we were racing in karts, and he was the new up-and-coming kid, and we had an amazing race together then - we were much better frineds back then that's for sure!" Hamilton joked.
"We went separate ways when we left karting and we kind of lost touch, but we'd had incredible times.
"Obvously when you have the same car, the mind games that go on in that intense battle are incredible."
Hamilton recovered from a retirement in the Melbourne season opener to record four straight wins before Rosberg hit back in Monaco.
The Briton then endured a difficult mid-season as he suffered early qualifying exits in Germany and Hungary thanks to mechanical failures and misjudged the mixed conditions in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.
After contact with Rosberg at the Belgian Grand Prix meant he failed to score, Hamilton was 29 points adrift of his team-mate heading into the final third of the season.
But six wins in the final seven races, including the controversial double points scoring finale in Abu Dhabi, gave Hamilton the title by 67 points.
Hamilton and Rosberg had a turbulent relationship through the season, with flashpoints in the Bahrain, Monaco and Belgian races.
Rosberg would later hint at resentment over Hamilton's aggressive driving in Bahrain, where they came close to colliding on several occasions, and Hamilton was angry at what he saw as a deliberate attempt by Rosberg to deny him pole position in Monaco when the German slid down the Mirabeau escape road and brought out the yellow flags while on provisional pole.
The tension fully erupted with the collision at Spa, which Mercedes management judged to be Rosberg's fault, but Hamilton said after the title decider that their relationship was now repaired.
He believes he has a better chance of retaining his title in 2015 than when he won the '08 crown with McLaren.
"I'm really excited because in 2009 they changed the rules and it was a new era and we weren't able to back up our championshiop. I'm looking forward to having fun and another fight for the championship," said Hamilton.