Lewis Hamilton said he was “flying super-high” after winning his sixth drivers’ title and was struggling to come to terms with his achievement.
The British Mercedes driver clinched the championship with second place at the United States Grand Prix behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas yesterday.
“It’s beyond surreal that my life journey has brought me to this point in winning the sixth title,” he said.
“I don’t know how I am supposed to feel right now.”
Hamilton said he was not able to comprehend the scale of his achievement, which moves him to within reach of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven World Championships, further confirms his position as one of the greatest in Formula 1 history, and places him as one of the greatest British athletes.
The 34-year-old said: “How am I supposed to feel? I remember watching this sport when I was younger. It’s odd to watch it and see someone in the TV set and now to be the person in the TV set and to be doing something like the great that I saw in Ayrton [Senna] and the great I saw in Michael.
“I don’t believe in the whole cloud nine thing. I am flying super-high right now. I have my family with me. I don’t remember the last time my mum and dad and step mum and step dad were at a grand prix, and I don’t think I’ve had them at World Championship grand prix before.
“I am really happy to share that with them – the people who have been at the core of who I am and sacrificed everything they have for me to have the life I have to do and have this opportunity.”
Hamilton’s achievement was saluted by his main rivals, the Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Bottas.
Leclerc, 22, said: “Only one title is already a huge achievement. To win six is just incredible. He deserves it. He has done an incredible season. I grew up watching him on the TV and just huge congratulations to him.”
Four-time world champion Vettel added: “Now is the time to write as many good things as you can. If someone wins the title six times, then he deserves all of it. That’s what I told him as well.
“I am happy for him. I am not happy we were not in contention, but you need to respect what he achieved the last years and this year together with his team, how strong they’ve been.”
Bottas, whose last slim hopes of beating Hamilton this season were extinguished in Austin despite his race victory, said: “Obviously big congrats to him. I personally failed with my target this year, but he deserved it this year. He had some season.”
Verstappen described Hamilton’s achievement as “phenomenal”.