Peter Sauber, the founder of Switzerland's only Formula One team, has been voted Swiss personality of 2005 by television viewers all over the country.
Sauber, who was one of 18 nominees on Saturday, was rewarded for his influence at the highest level of motor racing.
The 62-year-old businessman finished in front of world motorcycling champion Thomas Lüthi and figure skating world champion Stéphane Lambiel. Last year the prize went to Lotti Latrous, who founded an Aids hospice in Ivory Coast with the help of a local doctor in 1999.
The two previous winners were the tennis player Roger Federer in 2003 and the paediatrician Beat Richner, who set up children's hospitals in Cambodia, in 2002.
Sauber turned his back on Formula One at the end of last season after selling his team to German motoring giant BMW.
He was one of the last privateers in Formula One. He said at the time that the recent arrival of teams run by major car manufacturers like Toyota, Renault and Honda made it difficult for small outfits to compete.
Sauber's career in motor sport started in Switzerland with race-tuned Volkswagen Beetles. He then moved on to sports cars with a C1 that he designed in 1970 in the basement of his parents' house.
The Sauber team first attracted international attention in 1976 when Herbert Müller gained overall victory in the European Interseries. He drove a Sauber BMW C5.
In the mid-1980s, Sauber became the Mercedes-Benz works team for the World Sports Car Championship and achieved a one-two win at Le Mans in 1989 and two successive titles in the World Sports Car Championship in 1989 and 1990.
Sauber moved into Formula One in 1993. The team's best season was 2001 when it finished fourth in the constructors' championship and made the podium six times.
Besides being chosen as Swiss of the year, Sauber was awarded the prize for the business personality of 2005. Lüthi took home the sports award, while Maurice E. Müller, the surgeon who funded Bern's new Paul Klee Centre, received the culture prize.
The showbusiness award went to comedian Massimo Rocchi. Politics was also honoured with the mayor of Locarno, Carla Speziali, being recognised for her efforts to promote her town, which hosts an international film festival every summer.
The winner in the Society category was cancer specialist Franco Cavalli, who runs the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland in Bellinzona, canton Ticino.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss of the Year: Peter Sauber.
Business personality: Peter Sauber.
Sports: Thomas Lüthi.
Culture: Maurice E. Müller.
Politics: Carla Speziali.
Society: Franco Cavalli.
Showbusiness: Massimo Rocchi.
The 2006 Swiss Awards were broadcast live from Zurich.
Television viewers chose the personality of the year from a list of nominees.
Previous winners include tennis player Roger Federer and Swiss doctor Beat Richner.