Jolyon Palmer has been the man to beat all season in GP2. He took the lead of the drivers championship after the first round of the year at Bahrain and never looked back from there, finally managing to put the title beyond doubt on Saturday at Sochi with three races to spare.
"This feels amazing," beamed the new champion, after he was mathematically confirmed as clinching the 2014 title at the climax of his fourth season in the feeder series.
"I can't thank the team enough, they've done an incredible job all year, we've been fighting for pretty much every feature race win and every pole with almost no mistakes."
It means that Palmer becomes the tenth GP2 champion since the series' inception in 2005. His name is now up there alongside the likes of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, all of whom went on to compete in F1.
"It feels amazing to be champion," he added. "Looking through the list of previous GP2 Champions, they're all unbelievable drivers, and to be on that list is something which can't be taken away from me, it's an incredible feeling."
After becoming the first British GP2 champion since Hamilton in 2006, does Palmer intend to follow in his predecessor's footsteps and move into Grand Prix racing now?
"I was always confident that if I did win GP2 I was going to be in F1," Palmer confirmed to the GP2 Media Service. "I'm not saying it is going to be easy, but this title is a big help. We're going to have to wait for a few weeks and see what happens.
"I feel ready for it," he insisted. "I'm driving at the top of my game right now. I know the tyres thanks to GP2. It is the perfect series to feed into F1: it is the same tyres, the same tracks, the cars are even now a similar speed especially into the corners. I feel absolutely ready for it and I am confident it can happen."
In the meantime, Palmer can look back and savour a season that he could hardly have dared hope could have gone any better. "It's been an absolute dream season and to be champion at the earliest opportunity for me is the icing on the cake.
"It was obviously what we were aiming for from the start of this year and I think we've just done a really good job, myself and the DAMS team," he added. "We fought for every pole and every feature race win."
Palmer won four times in 2014, at Bahrain, Monaco and Monza, together with Saturday's feature race in Russia which had finally put the title beyond doubt. He also picked up another seven podium positions during the year.
His surge in form had started at the end of 2013 when he was still with the Carlin team, but a switch over the winter off-season to DAMS - the team that propelled Grosjean to the series title in 2011 and Davide Valsecchi likewise the following year - was the final injection of pace that he needed to achieve a season-long campaign at the top.
"Going to a new team, you never know how that's going to pan out," Palmer admitted. "The first day of testing in Abu Dhabi, we topped and from there we never looked back really. We took the first pole in Bahrain and we took a win that weekend as well. I've gotten so well with the team."
The only time all year that Palmer worried the title might not happen was going into the summer break when it seemed as though his former Carlin team mate Felipe Nasr was on a charge and capable of hunting him down and thwarting the Briton's championship hopes. That led to a bitter exchange of words between the two at Hungary, and after Nasr won at Spa there was only a 32 point gap between the pair in the standings.
Palmer then seemed to stumble badly at the start of the Monza round, when he was excluded from the results of qualifying over a fuel irregularity and had to start from the back of the grid. His recovery drive to eighth place in the feature race handed him pole for the sprint which he duly converted to a race win, and this feat of turning racing lead into pure gold was the pivotal moment of the title battle. With Nasr having a poor weekend, Palmer pulled away to what soon proved to be an unassailable lead.
"I think the only mistake all year was Monza qualifying. Even so, that weekend turned out great as well," Palmer smiled."Of course, you make one mistake and the pressure is on, so you feel the pressure of not making a first mistake! But, really my mind-set this year has been to feel no pressure."
His first race as the newly crowned champion, Sunday's sprint race, didn't turn out to be quite the successful celebration that he's been hoping for. Contact from behind at the first corner dropped him to the back of the field, but despite this he was able to get going again. Even though there was no need for him to finish or score points any more now that the title was wrapped up, he managed to recover all the way to tenth place by the time the chequered flag came out.
"I got a great start but then was hit into a spin at turn one which dropped me to the back and I picked up some damage," Palmer explained later. "From then on it was a long slog trying to get back up the order, in the end I finished 10th after a great last couple of laps which was a nice salvage."
It's the first race all year that Palmer hasn't finished in the points - that consistency being the key to his success and the reason why he's currently 56 points head of the battle for the runners-up position between Nasr and Stoffel Vandoorne.
"It's a shame to end my points scoring run but there was nothing I could do about someone braking too late and hitting me at the start," he said.
Despite that annoying blemish on his otherwise perfect score card for the 2014 season, Palmer is looking forward to celebrating his success at the final race of the year at Abu Dhabi in November.
"We can go out now, enjoy it and have some fun!" he declared. And by fun, he means he's as keen and determined to finish the year with another race win or two as he was at the start, to get another taste of champagne on the podium before his time in GP2 comes to a close.