Michael Schumacher was presented with a special FIA Gold Medal at the governing body's Awards Ceremony in Monaco last night for his contribution to motor racing.
The seven-times world champion was clearly delighted at being handed the honour by FIA president Max Mosley and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone at the very end of the evening in the Salle des Etoiles at the Monaco Sporting Club.
"I have received a huge amount of joy and pleasure from motor sport," said Schumacher. "To all of you and all of the people everywhere I really want to express my thanks. I have had such a love for this sport.
"It doesn't need motivation. You do it as good as you can and luckily I have a lot of great people around me who have allowed me to achieve what we have achieved together."
Mosley added: "It's a career that has never been equalled in the past and probably never will be in the future. In addition to his extraordinary achievements on the track I have to say Michael has helped us enormously with all sorts of work on road safety all over the world."
Bernie Ecclestone paid tribute to Schumacher's character off track, as well as his achievements on it. "All sports need a superstar and Michael is a superstar," he said.
"Michael's achievements speak for themselves so I don't really need to say anything more about them. But what they don't say is what a lovely guy Michael is and he is supported by a really lovely family. He's a lucky guy and I wish him all the best in the future."
F1 world champions Fernando Alonso and Renault collected their trophies after their success this season, as did World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx.
Priaulx said: "Its lovely to be back. To win two in a row is very special but in fact it is three in a row with the European Touring Car title as well. I'm enjoying this very much.
"It does not get harder because everybody is after you and I think this year is a vintage year with so many drivers up for the title going into the last race."