It’s been a big year for London-born F1 ace Lewis Hamilton, who capped his seventh Formula 1 world championship driver’s title and overall record-breaking win tally, with a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s honours list.
The knighthood for the 35-year-old Mercedes driver has come in the face of controversy, however, with doubts around the award being offered because of Hamilton’s Monaco residency status.
Reports from the UK suggest that beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson had intervened to ensure the knighthood would be presented, which has been awarded under the ‘diplomatic and overseas’ category.
Hamilton has also been an outspoken voice for diversity in F1 in 2020, leading drivers in ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests at the beginning of every race.
"Lewis is one of the very greatest racing drivers of all time and the most successful British sportsperson of his era," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said.
"Around the world, he has long been recognised for his sporting achievement; this year, he combined his excellence on the track with a powerful voice to fight discrimination. In every sense, he led the way in 2020.
"The news that he is to receive a knighthood shows that he is now receiving the recognition he has earned during a career of unparalleled success in motorsport.”
Hamilton, who will line up for Mercedes again in 2021, is just the fourth Formula 1 driver to earn the accolade, following in the footsteps of Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss.
Brabham was the first racing car driver ever to be knighted for his services to motorsports.
The NSW-born driver won the Formula One world championship three times as a driver, and became the first and only driver in Grand Prix racing to win with a car he built himself in 1966.