Arise Sir Lewis; Hamilton gets his knighthood
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – November 29, 2020 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the race. [REUTERS/Tolga Bozoglu/File Photo]

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was awarded a knighthood in the UK New Year’s honours list published on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old this year became the most successful F1 driver of all time after equaling Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles and beating the German’s 91 race wins.

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 a main one with many rewarded for service to public health in a 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”.

Arise Sir Lewis; Hamilton gets his knighthood
Formula One – British Grand Prix 2017 – Silverstone, Britain – July 16, 2017. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates his win with fans after the race. [REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo]

Cinematographer Roger Deakins, famed for his work on movies such as “1917”, “Shawshank Redemption” and “Skyfall”, was also knighted on the same overseas list.

Hamilton’s 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 Formula One 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 Hamilton, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008, as the most successful British sportsperson of his era.

Arise Sir Lewis; Hamilton gets his knighthood
Lewis Hamilton presents the award for Video For Good at the MTV EMA’s 2020, in this screengrab image released on November 8, 2020. [Courtesy of MTV/via REUTERS]

The knighthood, he added, showed that 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 the late Australian Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss and triple champion Jackie Stewart and the only one to have received the award while still racing.

Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Andy Murray and Alastair Cook have also been knighted as active sportsmen.

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