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Graham Read
Formula 1 Correspondent
6:00 AM 31st December 2020
sports

Lewis Hamilton Knighted

The 35 year old British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in the New Year’s Honours list after winning a record equalling seventh Drivers’ title this season and becoming a very active campaigner in support of the BLM movement.

Sir Lewis Hamilton, multiple Formula 1 champion and high profile BLM campaigner
Sir Lewis Hamilton, multiple Formula 1 champion and high profile BLM campaigner
His first F1 title was achieved back in 2008 with McLaren, after which he was awarded an MBE, and he has subsequently gained a further six titles in just the last seven years for the Mercedes team which has totally dominated the sport since 2014.

Hamilton’s dominant car 44 has won six of the last seven F1 Drivers’ titles
Hamilton’s dominant car 44 has won six of the last seven F1 Drivers’ titles
Hamilton, who grew up in Stevenage, has been a consistently very quick driver throughout his racing career, rising from his early karting days through the various single seater championships until he ultimately followed his hero Ayrton Senna into Formula 1 in 2007. I personally recall attending a Formula 1 test day at Silverstone in September 2006 and loitered in the McLaren pit garages, taking many photos of the young Lewis and chatting to his father Anthony. Hamilton instantly proved his significant talent even at this top table of world motorsport and, as they say, the rest is history.

I recall photographing a young Lewis at his Silverstone September 2006 F1 test for McLaren (copyright GR Media)I recall photographing a young Lewis at his Silverstone September 2006 F1 test for McLaren (copyright GR Media)
It was interesting to chat to his father Anthony the same day (copyright GR Media)It was interesting to chat to his father Anthony the same day (copyright GR Media)


However, his knighthood has not been without an element of controversy. Although he paid a significant amount of UK income tax in 2019 on his earnings in this country, he has chosen since 2008 to live abroad in Swiss and Monaco tax havens. As a result, with the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was keen for Hamilton to be knighted, any issues related to his longtime foreign residency beyond the remit of the HMRC were avoided by him being placed on the Foreign Office’s Diplomatic and Overseas list, which “recognises people who have given exceptional service to the UK abroad and internationally.” This is the first time a British sports person has been accommodated on the Honours list in this way.

Hamilton is the third British Formula 1 driver to be knighted, following in the footsteps of Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart. The sadly now deceased Sir Stirling was forced to retire from racing in 1962 due to serious injuries suffered at Goodwood, but he wasn’t knighted until 32 years later in 2000 for his longtime services to motorsport. Similarly, Sir Jackie ended his racing career in 1973, but was only knighted in 2001. In recent times though we have witnessed honours being awarded to British sports stars far sooner and sometimes whilst still competing, with Hamilton’s knighthood following this trend.

Sir Stirling Moss, one of Britain’s two other knighted Formula 1 drivers
Sir Stirling Moss, one of Britain’s two other knighted Formula 1 drivers
Hamilton’s current contract with the Mercedes Formula 1 team expires at midnight tonight and unusually has yet to be extended, but this is expected to merely be a formality which will be finalised shortly when negotiations have been concluded.