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Hamilton receives a hero's welcome at Woking 05 Nov 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren, at the McLaren Technology Centre as 2008 F1 World Champion. Lewis Hamilton arrives in the UK as 2008 F1 World Champion, McLaren Technology Cente, Woking, England, 5 November 2008. The entrance sign at the McLaren Technology Centre congratulates Lewis Hamilton on his championship success © McLaren Lewis Hamilton at the McLaren Technology Centre as 2008 F1 World Champion. 5 November 2008, Woking, UK.

After the drama and the jubilation of Brazil, new world champion Lewis Hamilton finally got to thank those who had made it all possible on Wednesday, as he arrived home to McLaren’s UK headquarters in Woking.

After a rapturous reception from the team’s entire workforce, Hamilton paid tribute to their efforts throughout the 2008 season, expressing his gratitude for all their work behind the scenes that allowed him to become the youngest man ever to take the drivers’ title.

Hamilton’s welcome started as he came through the gates of the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC), its 10 metre-long neon entry sign transformed from its normal white to McLaren’s trademark victory ‘rocket’ red, with a special message congratulating the British driver on his success.

From there the celebrations continued, as Hamilton treated his hundreds of co-workers - all in their victory red t-shirts - to an ear-splitting display behind the wheel of his Formula One machine, with the road around the MTC’s vast lake serving as a impromptu circuit.

Once out of the car, Hamilton shook endless hands and kissed numerous cheeks before taking centre stage, flanked by the numerous trophies he has already accumulated during his brief F1 career. Clearly overwhelmed, he admitted he was in awe of the occasion - and the team’s achievement.

“I am shaking like a leaf here,” he confessed. “It’s pretty awesome to be standing here. It really hasn’t hit home yet. I am here today to say a big thank you to all of you, including those who work here on the night shifts and the weekends when I don’t see you.

“We’ve proved to everyone that we are the best team and that we have the best car. These trophies are the result of all your hard work and you should all pat yourselves on the back - I love this team!”

Though he is not expected to test again this year, Hamilton will no doubt have a packed schedule over the coming months, with numerous media appearances and sponsor commitments. He will begin his title defence in Melbourne, Australia, on March 29, 2009.