Attending the star-studded event with Japanese model girlfriend Jessica Michibata, the sportsman was surprised to find himself picking up the award for Breakthrough of the Year.
"I think someone forgot to tell Laureus that I'm 30 years old. Breakthrough sportsman!" said the driver, who's set to start defending his title in Bahrain on Sunday.
"2009 was a very special year in my life. When I started the season I didn't think I'd actually be racing in Formula One. So to clinch the title with [racing team] Brawn GP in our first year was a very emotional experience for me."
Held at the seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel, the glitzy ceremony was hosted by Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey, and featured a incredible line-up of talent from the worlds of sport and entertainment alike.
Sporting names in attendance included Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, England football coach Fabio Capello and ex-tennis player Boris Becker and his Dutch model wife Sharlely, who gave birth to son Amadeus just last month.
And adding Hollywood glamour were acting names such as Hugh Grant, Clive Owen, Gwyneth Paltrow and Desperate Housewives star Kyle MacLachlan.
Other athletes picking up one of the Cartier-produced statuettes included superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, who received the award for Sportsman of the Year, and tennis player Serena Williams, who won Sportswoman of the Year.
The Laureus World Sports Awards were first held in Monaco ten years ago with the aim of becoming the Oscars of sport.
Voted for by a 46-strong line-up of elite former sportsmen and women – Sebastian Coe, Monica Seles, Bobby Charlton and Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson among them – they've since been held in other glamorous cities around the world, including Barcelona and St Petersburg.