LONDON • Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was awarded a knighthood in the United Kingdom New Year’s honours list published on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old in November became the most successful F1 driver after equalling Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles and beating the German’s 91 race wins the month before. The sport’s only black driver, who grew up in social housing as the grandson of immigrants from the Caribbean, Hamilton has also used his profile to campaign for diversity and speak out against racial injustice.
The Monaco resident’s presence on the overseas and international list, rather than the main one with many rewarded for service to public health during the Covid-19 pandemic, was seen as a reflection of his tax status.
The Daily Mail said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had “bent the rules” to get around the tax requirements for domestic awards.
The citation referred to Hamilton’s sporting record and his “charitable and philanthropic contributions in the UK and overseas”.
His supporters have long felt his achievements have not been sufficiently recognised at home and they expressed delight at the Mercedes driver joining a select group of sporting sirs.
“Lewis is a true giant of our sport and his influence is huge both in and out of a car,” said newly-appointed F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali, a former Ferrari team principal. “What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hailed his star driver, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008, as the most successful British sportsman of his era.
The knighthood, he added, showed Hamilton – often seen as a polarising figure – was “now receiving the recognition he has earned during a career of unparalleled success in motorsport”.
“The UK can be very proud to have a champion and ambassador of the calibre of Sir Lewis Hamilton,” added the Austrian.
Hamilton is the fourth F1 driver to be knighted after Australian Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and three-time champion Jackie Stewart, and the only one to have received the award while still racing.
Cycling’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah, three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray and cricketer Alastair Cook have also been knighted as active sportsmen.
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