After being beaten to the championship last year by team-mate Shane van Gisbergen, in what was van Gisbergen’s first season with the Triple Eight team, Whincup came back strongly in 2017 to clinch a record seventh title.

He won the championship despite clearly not having the fastest car across the balance of the season, and despite only winning half as many races as the man he would defeat in the title battle, Scott McLaughlin.

Whincup told the gala event’s host Jess Yates he had made some "big calls" following his defeat at the end of last year.

Last December he split with fiancé, Courtney Nicholson, just prior to their planned wedding.

“Massive, massive sacrifices had to be made,” Whincup said.

“I would have loved to have walked through the door with a wife tonight, but the reality is it’s the silverware or that.

"It’s pretty scary. I had to make some big calls at the end of last year.

"We’ve dug deep. Had to stay off the alcohol; that was painful for a few months, but we got the job done.

“It was all or nothing. As I said, it’s probably pretty sad, but this sport means everything to me and this trophy means everything to me.”

Whincup thanked his Red Bull Holden Racing Team for their efforts during the season, noting the difference between this and previous championship-winning seasons.

“It’s quite embarrassing that there’s one name on the trophy when it’s a massive team sport,” he said.

“We’ve won the engineering battle for many years and won through pure pace, but this year there were some cars that were equally as fast as ours, not faster but equally as good.

“We certainly had to dig deep and I feel like this one is very, very special because we won as team on the day.”

When asked what he felt was his standout on-track battle of the season, Whincup nominated the fight with McLaughlin for the title in the Newcastle decider.

“Battling for this championship, what that does to you mentally, it doesn’t matter how many times you talk yourself out of it, going for that championship plays havoc on your mind.

“It wasn’t a nice position for me and Scotty [McLaughlin] on Sunday, but that battle is what you look back on and truly, truly love.”