Arise, Sir Lewis Hamilton. While the dust is still settling on the most contentious Formula 1 Championship decider in history, seven-time winner Lewis Hamilton is revelling in a new honour. Just days after an eighth championship was ripped from his grasp by first-time winner Max Verstappen, the British racing icon and tireless human rights advocate has been knighted, becoming only the fourth GP driver to receive the title.
In a subdued Windsor Castle investiture ceremony on Wednesday, Hamilton was honoured by the Prince of Wales. Joined by his mother, Carmen Lockhart, the 36-year-old followed in the footsteps of Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and Australian legend Sir Jack Brabham. But, in a somewhat fitting revelation, Hamilton became the first to be awarded the honour while still competing.
For Hamilton, the recognition comes after a decade of dominance. Claiming his seventh title in 2020, the Brit broke Michael Schumacher’s long-standing victory tally, arguably promoting him to GOAT status. But while his efforts in the track have been monumental, the work he’s done off it has been just as impressive.
For years, the Mercedes driver has pushed for greater representation for people of colour in motor racing and remains a vocal proponent for the Black Lives Matter movement. The July release of The Hamilton Commission outlined 10 key recommendations for change in the sport, prompting a response from the esteemed racing body.
“While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few Black individuals within Formula 1 and, after 15 years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself,” Hamilton said upon the report’s release. “Given the right opportunities and support, young people can excel at whatever they put their minds to, but our research shows that many young Black people are being closed out of opportunities within STEM, and having their full potential limited.
While his knighthood may have come under a cloud of controversy, marred by contention end to this week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it shouldn’t negate his achievements. Seemingly with the backing of the Royal Family, the future for Sir Hamilton remains wide open.