Seven-times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher has honored the success of his county in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport tonight, presenting A1 Team Germany with the World Cup trophy at the series' end of season awards ceremony.
He received a standing ovation from the gathered crowd when he was announced on stage.
Schumacher said: 'Nico's driving and A1 Team Germany's achievements this year have been excellent. Nico has everything he needs for the future - it is a long way to go but he is working hard, so why can he not achieve everything? I am proud as German, but it also because of the personal connections I have, that make this special to me.'
Nico said: 'It is what a driver always wants to achieve. Winning races and winning a championship. That's what we did this year. It is a good championship and it's great to represent your country. I'm proud to have won this title.
'You just need to open your eyes and look around at the race tracks. I have a good feeling for drivers. I am proud and very happy and we did a fantastic job this season.'
A1GP celebrated the end of its 2006/07 season with a glittering gala dinner at the Royal Court of Justice in London. Teams, drivers, sponsors and officials gathered at the event hosted by Sky Sports presenter, Georgie Thompson, to pay tribute to the memorable achievements of the season.
A1 Team New Zealand's added to the silver medals gained for second place in the 2006/07 championship with awards for the most improved driver, most supportive franchise and award for PR excellence. Driver Jonny Reid whose improving skills and ability behind the wheel were noted by the A1GP Sporting Committee commented:
Jonny Reid said: 'It is a fantastic feeling because last season I didn't get to drive so much and you it is just a reward for all of my hard efforts and the people that believed in me. I'm stoked to get this award. Second in the championship is two places ahead of where we finished last season and it was a ver positive result for A1 Team New Zealand. There is only one more step to go now, and that's definitely the target for next season.'
The driving skills of Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen were also recognised with the award for the best overtaking manoeuvre of the season when Bleekemolen sent the home crowd wild in Zandvoort, storming past Great Britain on the outside of the infamous Tarzan corner on lap 17 of the Feature race. The move was made all the more impressive when despite no other team even attempting such an effort, Bleekemolen repeated the trick on Germany and France later in the race.
Bleekemolen said: 'The moves I did were a long time ago so I'm really happy I've been remembered for this award, because it really means something. Altogether they were three really nice moves. You are down on RPM in that corner so I could really hear the crowd go crazy - I don't think anybody has heard people go crazy like that in a racing car before. It was amazing.'
The Netherlands' evening was bettered still as Circuit Park Zandvoort was named the best A1GP event of the season and in an online poll voted for by members of the A1GP.com fanzone, the Netherlands narrowly beat Malaysia for the Best A1 Team of 2006/07.
The award for the most improved team of 2006/07 went to A1 Team China who improved on their one points finish of last season with eight this year, including its first ever podium at the A1GP Eastern Creek, China. Points scored by drivers Congfu Cheng and Ho Pin Tung saw the team finish 15th this season, up on last year's 22nd place finish.
A1 Team Ireland snatched the award for best livery from last year's winners, the Netherlands. The bright green car of the Irish was specially commissioned for the team before the start of the season to represent the nation's landscape. The team's success continued as they were also named the best presented team of the series.
The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is known for the friendly rivalry it creates between nations and the camaraderie of its competitors. For the mechanics of A1 Team Australia, their sportsmanship earned them an award in recognition of the help they gave A1 Team Portugal on its return to the series in Durban this year. When a last minute decision was taken for Portugal to race in Durban, the team arrived with little kit or equipment and were unable to complete the mandatory pit stop required in the Feature race. A1 Team Australia stepped up to the mark, changing the tyres on the Portuguese car in 35 seconds despite their own car having already been taken out of the race in a pit lane incident with the Netherlands.
A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira said of the evening: 'Tonight is a celebration of all we have achieved this season. The teams, drivers and all involved in A1GP, have put on a magnificent show, which I know will be improved upon again as we head to Zandvoort in September for our third season.
'I would like to congratulate A1 Team Germany for winning the World Cup and thank them and our other teams for the exciting races they have put on throughout the season. In Nico Hülkenberg we have found a fresh young driver who clearly has a bright future ahead of him and I am honoured to represent a sporting series that has given him the opportunity to shine on the international stage.
'I'd like to thank all the teams, drivers and our partners who have helped to make the 2006/07 season so memorable and wish you all the best of luck with your off-season commitments.'