Lewis Hamilton’s incredible year has been capped by a knighthood for services to motorsport.
The 35-year-old equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One world titles this year as he continues to dominate the sport, and his achievements have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.
Hamilton has not resided permanently in the UK since 2007, and his knighthood was included on the Diplomatic and Overseas List.
He initially moved to Switzerland and then on to Monaco, both considered tax havens, though he has defended the amount of tax he pays in the UK.
In an interview with the Sunday Times in 2017, he said: “What people don’t realise is that I pay tax here, but I don’t earn all my money here.
“I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places and I pay tax in several different places, and I pay a lot here as well.
“I am contributing to the country and, not only that, I help keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed. I am part of a much bigger picture.”
Hamilton built his reputation as a prodigious junior karter, and made his F1 debut in 2007 with McLaren.
His maiden title was won with that team too in 2008 but Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull then took centre stage, before a move to Mercedes for the 2013 season changed everything.
He won the world championship in 2014 and 2015, lost out to Nico Rosberg in 2016 but has dominated ever since, with 2020 his fourth title in a row.
The magnificent seven was completed in Turkey in November, and he won 11 races in the 2020 season in all.
He surpassed Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins with his triumph in Portugal in October.
Hamilton has used his winning platform to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with protests spreading around the world following the death of black man George Floyd in police custody in the United States in May.
Sitting in as guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Boxing Day, Hamilton told Professor David Olusoga: “I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races.
“It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past, to get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform (for Black Lives Matter) and shine the light as bright as possible.”
Asked by Olusoga if he had been concerned about the response to his stance, Hamilton replied: “There is no way that I could stay silent. And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear.”
A contract for next year is still to be signed, but 2021 could be the year Hamilton overtakes Schumacher to be the most decorated driver in the history of the sport.
Elsewhere, former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Rob Burrow has been made an MBE.
Burrow, 38, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December last year. His MBE is in recognition of services to his sport but also to raising MND awareness during the coronavirus pandemic.
His former team-mate, current Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield, ran seven marathons in seven days to raise funds for the MND Association on Burrow’s behalf, with the total now well over £2.5million.
Burrow said: “2020 has taught us all to appreciate the gifts we have and it is my honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the MND community.
“I hope it gives people hope that we are not ignored and the drive for more research and support to end MND will not stop.”
Also included in the list are former footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers, who are the last surviving members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad to be honoured. They have been made MBEs.
Bob Champion, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti while recovering from cancer, has been awarded a CBE for his charitable work at the Bob Champion Cancer Trust.
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter has been awarded an OBE, while the team’s captain, Joe Simmonds, is made an MBE.
Barry Hearn, the chairman of the World Snooker Tour and the Professional Darts Corporation, has been awarded an OBE for services to sport, while the chairman of football’s National League Brian Barwick receives the same award.
Matt Hampson, who was paralysed from the neck down during a training session with the England Under-21 rugby union team in 2005, has been recognised with an OBE for services to charity through his foundation which supports others who suffer catastrophic injuries in sport.
Damian Hopley, the chief executive of the Rugby Players Association, has been made an MBE.
Three top horseracing administrators have been recognised, with Racecourse Association chairman Maggie Carver being awarded a CBE, outgoing British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nick Rust awarded an OBE and former Professional Jockeys Association chairman Nigel Payne made an MBE.
Gill Coultard, the first woman to win 100 senior England football caps, receives an MBE, as does former Wales international Alan Curtis, a former player and coach at Championship side Swansea.
Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup tennis captain Anne Keothavong receives an MBE for services to her sport.
John McGuinness, one of the most successful riders in the history of the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races, has been awarded an MBE.
Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, from Newtownards in County Down, who became the first Irishman to win a world championship medal when he claimed bronze in the pommel horse in Stuttgart last year, receives the British Empire Medal.