Lewis Hamilton deserves his knighthood after matching Michael Schumacher’s achievements in Formula One this year, according to former F1 drivers Martin Brundle and Damon Hill. The Brit will become the fourth man from within the sport to be given such an honour. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used a loophole to ensure the 35-year-old is recognised for his sensational performances over the past 12 months.
Hamilton has previously been overlooked for the award but, after an intervention from the PM, will now become a Sir.
Back in November, Motorsport UK and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Formula One wrote to the prime minister saying it would be ‘totally wrong’ to deny the champion a knighthood because his ‘tax status has been misunderstood’.
The situation has now changed and the British driver is set to follow in the footsteps of Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton has been active throughout the course of the year, calling for more diversity within F1 and backing the Black Lives Matter movement.
And Hill feels he ‘took a gamble’ in doing that – but believes it’s paid off.
He told Sky Sports News: “He is standing up for issues that are close to his heart and affect everyone, and in our sport it’s very rare for a driver to get involved in anything that’s outside of Formula 1.
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“Lewis has said ‘this affects me, this affects every black person’.
“He’s stood up at a time when it could have destabilised his career, could have destabilised his concentration on the championship.
“So he took a huge gamble to do that, and that’s courage and that’s standing up for what you believe is right.”
Brundle also thinks Hamilton deserves his knighthood, saying: “Congratulations to him, and very well deserved.
“Seven world titles he has in his pocket now equalling the great Michael Schumacher.
“He tops the tables in Formula 1 for most victories at 95, most pole positions at 98, most podiums at 165.
“He’s 36 years old on January 7. Most of the young guns aiming to knock him off the pedestal are 10-15 years younger than him and he still turns up with his A game; full of energy, pushing like crazy.
“If anybody in sporting terms deserves this recognition then surely it’s Sir Lewis Hamilton.”
He then added: “When we see Lewis up on the podium and we hear the national anthem, and we see him with the Union Flag and being crowd-surfed at Silverstone, this all sums it up in terms of underlining what he has achieved in representing Great Britain and Formula 1.”
Speaking recently, Hamilton said F1 had plenty to do to make the sport more inclusive for all.
“The real main target is why I’m doing the Hamilton Commission,” he said.
“It’s to try to leave this place with changes that will hopefully make it a more diverse sport in the future. So, if I come in five-10 years’ time, and I walk in, I won’t be the only person of colour that’s in this sport.
“Hopefully it will be more diverse. Hopefully these teams will be more diverse and continue to progress.
“It’s [about] having a sport that is reflective of society and the outside world. Yes, our world is multicultural – lots of different colours and people from different religions – and we don’t see a lot of women here too.
“I hope in years to come you see [that] women have high-up roles, you see people of colour that can also be in high-up roles – [it goes] from mechanics to catering because you don’t see that, even to marshalling.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
“It goes back to accountability at the forefront of it. And even in [Autosport’s] world – I think of my whole F1 career I’ve seen one black guy that’s been [working as a journalist].
“OK, we’ve got a couple of reporters that are behind the camera, but you know I just hope that in 10 years’ time [it’s different]. That’s my mission, that’s my purpose here. Winning is all good, but it’s kind of the least important.”