If there's anyone in the GP2 paddock that knows the value of winning the title and just how much work goes into a championship-winning season, it has to be Davide Valsecchi.
He's been competing in the series since 2008, originally with Durango and then a brief stint with Barwa Addax and a season apiece with iSport and Team AirAsia (now Caterham) in 2010 and 2011. But for Valsecchi, the necessary components of a successful title campaign had never come together - his best finish in the championship before now was eighth place.
Then at the start of 2012 he landed the seat at DAMS which last year powered Romain Grosjean to the 2011 title and set the Frenchman on his way to a full time F1 drive this year with Lotus. If the stars were ever going to align for Valsecchi, it surely had to be this year?
Even so, actually pulling it off and finally clinching a dream five years in the making was almost too much to take on board when it happened at Singapore this weekend.
"It's just unbelievable! I'm so, so happy," said Valsecchi after finally putting the title beyond doubt. "I'm happy to put the last stone in it here in Singapore at last!
"With four victories, ten podiums and six fastest laps we've shown that we're the best," insisted Valsecchi of their championship-winning season. "We've had a great season and the car was competitive almost everywhere. In the key moments neither DAMS nor I made any mistakes."
It's an especially sweet moment of vindication for his team: "Keeping a title is a rare exploit in GP2 and we've had some very tough rivals," pointed out DAMS team principal Jean-Paul Driot. "This crown rewards all the work we've put in and confirms, after Romain Grosjean's victory last year, that DAMS is a great team.
"It's fantastic," Driot added. "They've put on a brilliant consistent performance since the start of the season and they've remained calm and tightly-knit when the going got rough."
That ability to hold their nerve when the going got tough proved vital, since after an explosive early part to the season that included three back-to-back wins in consecutive weekends at Bahrain, Valsecchi was not to win again until Monza: in the meantime, the seemingly remorseless consistency of Arden's Luiz Razia's season meant Valsecchi's lead in the championship ebbed away.
"We were the best at the beginning of the season, we were not so lucky in the middle of the season and I saw the stewards a bit too much," Valsecchi admitted. "At one stage we wondered if we would be able to fight back at the top again.
"But when it was important in the end we came back, driving really well, having a good car," he continued. "In Budapest we took back the situation and were one of the quickest and I had a great weekend - although unfortunately, so did Razia!
"I just thought, 'Keep working like this and we'll make the gap,' and in Monza we did it," he added.
As far as the 25-year-old Italian is concerned, it's the level of competition in the series that makes the title worth the effort in the first place.
"No one can become a hero if he doesn't have a great contender," Valsecchi told the GP2 Media Service
after clinching the title. "In GP2, there are the best drivers in the world outside of F1, and the level is so high that if everything is not perfect, you cannot win: there are teams like Lotus, DAMS, iSport, Racing Engineering, Addax, Arden. Every one has won in the past."
That extended to his own nemesis for this year's title, Luiz Razia: "I'm really happy to have a great contender in Razia, because to be honest he made our job really difficult!" agreed Valsecchi.
On the losing side, Luiz Razia was honest about his feelings after his final hopes of snatching the 2012 title from Valsecchi slipped away in the Singapore feature race.
"I obviously feel a tang of disappointment that the title battle is over, but I can't complain about my results across the season as a whole," said Razia. "I think I have improved hugely as a driver this season and I have grown within this team.
"Luck hasn't always been on our side, but we've fought back strongly in times of adversity and there isn't a great deal to choose between my results and Davide's," he added. "There has been a lot of hard work and nothing has been gifted to us, so we have to be satisfied: I think the team and I have shown we can compete at the very highest level - and succeed."
Looking to the future, Davide Valsecchi was cautious when asked if winning the title meant it was possible that he would be following his predecessor as champion into F1 in 2013 - but also optimistic.
"I really hope I will have a chance, and that I can show that I deserve to be there, that I'm ready and I'm strong enough to be there," he said, lamenting the absence of an Italian on this year's F1 Grand Prix starting grid.
"But to be honest, I love to fight with everyone here - with Razia, Chilton, Calado, Gutiérrez, van der Garde," he said. "I wish that [GP2] would go to the rest of the races with F1 too! I would sign right now: next week, if you were going to Japan, I would come!"
But Valsecchi also made the point that his work in this year's GP2 season was not over quite yet: having clinched his personal success in the drivers championship, now he needs to return the favour to the team that made it all possible by ensuring that he plays his part in winning DAMS the teams championship in Sunday's sprint race.
"I'm determined to thank the whole squad by clinching the teams' title," he said, setting up the final showdown for himself and his team mate Felipe Nasr with the Lotus GP duo of Esteban Gutiérrez and James Calado. "I hope tomorrow to have a really good job, and to pay back DAMS for the car they gave to me all season long, and to beat Lotus for the teams' championship."
"With Felipe's incredible talent and Davide's determination to reward everybody we'll try and add the cherry on this magnificent cake tomorrow!" agreed Driot.
And Nasr - pointing out that he would be starting from third place on the sprint race grid under the reverse grid rules - was determined to play his part and maybe even carry away a victory of his own from this weekend's first GP2 event in Singapore.
"I'm going to try and score that victory which will give the team the title," he said. "It'd be a great reward for them.”
Only two points separate the two teams in the standings, so the likelihood is that this final battle of the 2012 GP2 season will go down to the very last lap of the very last race of the year.
Full feature race report
Full feature race results