New Year Honours list: Lewis Hamilton knighted after winning seventh F1 title and leading anti-racism drive

Jack de Menezes
·4-min read
Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in the New Year Honours list (PA)
Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in the New Year Honours list (PA)

Lewis Hamilton capped an incredible record-breaking year by being knighted in the New Year Honours list.

The 35-year-old Formula One driver has been knighted for services to motorsport after an inspiring year on and off the track, in which he matched Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships and surpassed the German’s all-time leading tally of wins, while he led the sport’s campaign for greater equality and diversity.

As well as his accomplishments behind the wheel, Hamilton was named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month for the second time, adding to his 2014 triumph when he clinched his second world title.

He also launched the Hamilton Commission, which is already working towards opening up new avenues for individuals from minority backgrounds to work their way up the motorsport ladder. Though he is the all-time most successful F1 driver, he remains the only black race winner, world champion and regular driver in the sport’s history.

The push for greater diversity - which featured F1’s ‘We Race As One’ campaign - stemmed from the killing of African-American George Floyd in May this year while in police custody in the United States, and saw the Black Lives Matter movement gain unprecedented support that resulted in a number of sports looking at the way they operated when it came to such issues.

READ MORE: Lewis Hamilton crowned Sports Personality of the Year

That drive has fuelled Hamilton this year in a different way to his previous six world title triumphs.

"I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races,” Hamilton told Professor David Olusoga on Boxing Day while guest editing BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

"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.

"There is no way that I could stay silent. And once I said that to myself, I didn't hold any fear."

Hamilton has divided opinion among the British public due to his move to firstly Switzerland and then Monaco, where the seven-time champion currently resides. Critics of the Stevenage-born driver have accused him of dodging tax in the UK, but it is an allegation that is simply not true. Hamilton pays tax through his Mercedes employment, with the team based in Brackley, and due to F1’s global travel, he ends up paying tax all over the world. In 2019, it was revealed that Hamilton was among the top 5,000 highest taxpayers in Britain.

"What people don't realise is that I pay tax here, but I don't earn all my money here,” Hamilton told the Sunday Times in 2017 in defence of the inaccurate accusations.

"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."

Former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow is battling Motor Neurone DiseasePA
Former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow is battling Motor Neurone DiseasePA

Another athlete honoured this year for their work away from sport is former rugby league player Rob Burrow, who has relentlessly campaigned to raise funds and awareness in the fight against Motor Neurone Disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2019. The 38-year-old, who spent his entire career with Leeds Rhinos and represented both England and Great Britain, has been awarded an MBE for services to rugby league and to MND awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes just weeks after his former teammate Kevin Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven day on Burrow’s behalf, which generated well in excess of £2.5m.

Former England footballer Jimmy Greaves also receives a long overdue MBE for services to his sport, with the 80-year-old scoring 44 goals in 57 England appearances and representing Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and West Ham during a famous career.

Among the other sporting names honoured this year are Maggie Carver, chair of the Racecourse Association and deputy chair of Ofcom, Bob Champion, the former jockey and Grand National winner and founder of the Bob champion Cancer Trust, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club chief executive Peter Dawson, all of whom received Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBEs).

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter is awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) following the club’s Premiership and European rugby double last season, while the club’s 24-year-old captain Joe Simmonds is made an MBE.

<p>Baxter is honoured following Exeter’s success last season</p>Getty

Baxter is honoured following Exeter’s success last season

Getty

Seven other names are awarded OBEs including National League chairman Brian Barwick and World Snooker Tour and Professional Darts Corporation chairman Barry Hearn, as well as former rugby player Matt Hampson, who is acknowledged for his voluntary and charitable services since being left paralysed from the next down due to a training accident in 2005.

Other names honoured with MBEs include British tennis captain Anne Keothavong, Isle of Man TT motorcycling great John McGuinness, and 1966 World Cup squad member and Wolverhampton Wanderers favourite Ron Flowers.

Read More

Hamilton says 2020 F1 triumph was different to all other seasons

‘I’ve had something different driving me’: Hamilton looks back on 2020

Hamilton set to extend Mercedes contract

Jimmy Greaves: Why all who love football should be grateful for