Sir Lewis Hamilton knighted days after F1 title heartache
Sir Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in recognition of a glittering career in Formula One just days after he controversially lost out on a record eighth title.
The motoring superstar was dubbed a knight by the Prince of Wales during a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony on Wednesday, but he declined to speak to reporters afterwards.
He was joined by his mother Carmen Lockhart and was all smiles as they posed for pictures in the castle’s quadrangle.
When congratulated on his award, Sir Lewis said: “Thank-you.”
The 36-year-old is the fourth F1 driver to be knighted, following in the footsteps of Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart, and the first to be awarded the honour while still competing.
Sir Lewis was recognised in the New Year Honours list following a record-breaking year in which he eclipsed Michael Schumacher’s all-time victory tally and emulated the German by winning a seventh world title.
But on Sunday, rival driver Max Verstappen claimed his first Formula One world title after his season-long battle with Sir Lewis came down to a one-lap shoot-out in Abu Dhabi.
The deployment of the safety car after a late crash at the Yas Marina Circuit wiped out the lead Sir Lewis had built over his rival, and Verstappen had the advantage as he was using fresher tyres.
After the Red Bull driver stormed past Sir Lewis – who missed out on a fifth title in succession – the British racing star reportedly said on the car radio “This has been manipulated, man”, but he was later magnanimous in post-race interviews.
He told Sky Sports at the time: “Congratulations to Max and his team. I think we did an amazing job this year. Everyone back at the factory and here worked so hard in this most difficult of seasons.”
Despite being one of the UK’s most successful sportsmen, Sir Lewis – who was twice voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year – had previously been overlooked, reportedly due to his tax affairs.
His knighthood was included on the Diplomatic and Overseas List as he now lives in Monaco and has not resided permanently in the UK since 2007.
Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Hain, who serves as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Formula One, twice wrote to Downing Street calling for the driver to be honoured with a knighthood.
The past few years have been pivotal for Sir Lewis, who found his public voice and was praised when he spoke out about a range of race issues.
The death of George Floyd proved the catalyst, with Sir Lewis saying he could no longer keep his views to himself after Mr Floyd’s killing at the hands of American policemen.
The sole black driver in F1’s white-dominated world called out his peers for staying silent over Mr Floyd’s murder.
He then marched on the streets of London supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and hailed protesters for tearing down the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.
Sir Lewis even persuaded his team Mercedes to ditch its traditional silver livery for black to send out an extraordinary message in the fight against racism.