British Prime Minister Gordon Brown led a whole raft of tributes to newly-crowned 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who became the youngest driver ever to lift the prestigious laurels following a nail-biting Brazilian Grand Prix at the weekend.

At just 23 years and 301 days of age, Hamilton supplanted former McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Fernando Alonso as the youngest title-winner in the sport's 58-year history - even though, barely two corners from the chequered flag at Interlagos, the spoils had looked to be heading the way of Ferrari rival Felipe Massa.

As if by divine intervention, though, the Stevenage-born ace came across a struggling Timo Glock in the very final seconds of the grand prix, and was able to sweep past the ailing Toyota to grab the fifth place he so desperately needed - and with it the goal he had been chasing from his very earliest years.

Effusive in his praise for Britain's first world champion since Damon Hill twelve years ago, Brown said the whole country was 'thrilled' at the result, describing the nine-time grand prix winner as 'inspirational' and an 'exceptional talent' - and predicting that he would now go on from strength-to-strength.

"I, like so many, want to congratulate him on becoming world champion, the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history," the PM told The Associated Press, suggesting it would be 'the first championship I think of many that he's going to win in years to come'.

"I think the whole country is thrilled by his exceptional talent. I think the whole of Britain are proud of the inspirational Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team."

Those sentiments were shared by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, who acknowledged Hamilton's remarkable qualities as an 'exceptionally talented and dedicated young man'.

"This is a remarkable feat from an exceptionally talented and dedicated young man," Burnham enthused, "and a historic day for British motor racing.

"Lewis Hamilton's victory is something everyone in the UK can feel proud of, and I am sure he will help to inspire the next generation of sporting champions."