Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours list, following a season in which he secured a record-equalling seventh world championship.
The Mercedes-AMG F1 ace was made a Knight Bachelor for services to motorsports at the end of a dominant season in which he also broke Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins. Hamilton, 35, now has 95 race wins.
Hamilton had been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 2008 following his first championship title. There had been reports that Hamilton has previously been overlooked for a knighthood due to his tax arrangements, and Motorsport UK, British motorsport’s governing body, launched a campaign to support his cause earlier this year.
Notes released by the UK government on the awards said Hamilton was “rewarded for his outstanding achievements and contribution to motorsports”, and said that his achievements in setting new F1 records for wins, pole positions and podiums “place him amongst the greatest ever sportsmen that the United Kingdom has produced.” The citation also noted Hamilton’s charitable and philanthropic work both in the UK and overseas on a range of causes “from improving equality within motorsport, to supporting disadvantaged young people, children’s charities and conservation causes.”
Knighthoods are among the highest honours awarded, and are given for exceptional achievement in a given category. Hamilton joins Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham as grand prix racers to have been given a knighthood. Frank Williams and Patrick Head have also been knighted for their efforts in growing Williams into one of the sport’s most successful teams.
The knighthood, which carries the title Sir, is the latest recognition for Hamilton from beyond the world of motorsport. Earlier in December he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for a second time he has received the honour.
Hamilton won the BBC award in a public vote ahead of Liverpool FC captain Jordan Henderson and jockey Hollie Doyle. The Stevanage driver previously won the award in 2014, and has also finished runner-up four times. He is now one of four people to have won the Sports Personality award twice, including fellow F1 champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill. Tennis star Andy Murray has a record three wins.
F1 legends Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart have both also won the award, while John Surtees – the only driver to win world titles on two and four wheels – was honoured for his success in motorcycle racing.