Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he would rather have beaten GP2 Series title rival Nelson Piquet Jr to crown on Sunday than have the championship handed to him in the stewards room on Saturday evening.

However, that is the scenario which confirmed Hamilton's rookie season triumph as, sometime after the weekend's feature race had concluded, winner Giorgio Pantano was stripped of his fastest lap and the bonus that went with it awarded to the Briton. The extra point gave Hamilton the seven-point advantage he needed over Piquet with just the sprint race finale remaining.

"It's a big relief, but it's maybe not the way I would have liked to have won it," Hamilton admitted, "I would have liked to have had it by winning the race or something, but I'll take it. It doesn't sound right to say it's not the way I wanted to win... I did get the fastest lap, it's just a shame that Giorgio did his fastest lap at the end. But that's the way it is. Before that last lap, I'd done enough, so I'm satisfied that I've done my job."

The Briton was full of praise for his ART Grand Prix team, particularly for its efforts since the mid-season Paul Ricard test, when Piquet's family-run team appeared to gain the upper hand.

"I've worked very hard this year, the team have done a fantastic job, and to finally have it over and done with, especially after the last few races - which have been so hectic trying to fend Nelson off - is a great feeling," he said, "I've dedicated myself more than I have done in previous years and the work has paid off. To come in on my first year and win it, it's not something you expect, and it's unlikely most drivers will do it. But I had a great team behind me."

Having moved to the head of the championship early in the campaign, much has been made of Hamilton's natural ability and his chances of moving to Formula One next season, an assumption furthered by his long-standing relationship with McLaren. Ron Dennis, however, remains coy on the subject of next year's line-up, and Hamilton himself claims that he is unable to shed any light on his next move.

"I still don't know!" he insisted, "I'll see when I talk to the bosses tomorrow, but I just hope that I can get the seat. My next target is [to be] Formula One world champion!"


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