Seven time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher was a surprise guest at the end of season A1GP awards ceremony in London, with the former Ferrari driver presenting A1 Team Germany with the 2006/07 World Cup Trophy.

Led by seat holder Willi Weber, Schumacher's manager during his successful career, the German team stormed to the title in the second A1 season thanks to the stunning performances of youngster Nico Hulkenberg who won no fewer than nine races during the course of the season as the German team fended off the challenge of New Zealand and Great Britain to take the title.

"It is what a driver always wants to achieve," Hulkenberg said. "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."

Hulkenberg's performances during the season have led to comparisons being made with Schumacher and the 38-year-old said he felt that the teenager has what it takes to make his way up the motorsport ladder.

"Nico's driving and A1 Team Germany's achievements this year have been excellent," Schumacher said on presenting the trophy. "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."

The glittering gala dinner, held at the Royal Court of Justice in London, saw teams, drivers, sponsors and officials gather to pay tribute to the memorable achievements of the season.

As well as securing second place in the championship standings behind the Germans, A1 Team New Zealand were the big winners - picking up awards for the most improved driver, most supportive franchise and award for PR excellence in addition to the World Cup silver medal. 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," Jonny Reid, the man voted as the most improved driver, said. "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 very 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."

A1 Team Netherlands were also big winners on the night as the Dutch team picked up three awards. Members of the A1GP.com fanzone narrowly voted Team Netherlands as the best team ahead of Malaysia, while the team's home event at Zandvoort was named as the best event of the season. Jeroen Bleekemolen's performance on home soil, which came after he secured a late call-up to the seat in place of Jos Verstappen, also saw him pick up the award for the best overtaking move of the season for his pass on Robbie Kerr during the feature race at the infamous Tarzan corner - a move he would later repeat on Germany and France.

"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," he said. "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 award for the most improved team of 2006/07 went to A1 Team China who improved on one points finish in the first season of A1GP with eight this year, including a first ever podium at 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 was also named the best presented team of the series.

A fair play and sportsmanship award went to the Team Australia, in recognition of the help the team 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 the South African event, 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.

Two more awards saw Telkom named as most supportive A1GP partner, while Sky Sports was named best A1GP broadcaster.

"Tonight is a celebration of all we have achieved this season," A1GP chairman, Tony Teixeira said. "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 Hulkenberg 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."

Full list of winners - 06/07 season:

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - World Champions:A1 Team GermanyA1GP World Cup of Motorsport - Second place:A1 Team New ZealandA1GP World Cup of Motorsport - Third place:A1 Team Great BritainBest A1GP event:ZandvoortMost appearling livery:A1 Team IrelandMost improved driver:Jonny Reid - A1 Team New ZealandMost spectacular overtaking manoeuvre:Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands at ZandvoortMost improved team:A1 Team ChinaBest A1 Team:A1 Team Netherlands voted through A1GP.comA1 Team PR excellence:A1 Team New ZealandMost supportive A1GP franchise:A1 Team New ZealandFair play and sportsmanship award:A1 Team AustraliaBest presented team:A1 Team IrelandMost supportive A1GP partner:TelkomBest A1GP broadcaster:Sky Sports

 

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