Former Formula One world champion Damon Hill believes that the knighthood is an absolutely deserved honor for Lewis Hamilton. The British driver will be knighted on this year’s New Years honors list, according to the Sun. Hill has said that if awarded it will be recognition not only of Hamilton’s accomplishments on the track, but also of his character and impact on the sport, where as a black driver he has been breaking barriers since he started racing.
Hamilton has not only risen to the top of F1, but, as the only black driver in the sport, he has had an influence beyond his accomplishments on the track. “Lewis has always been breaking down barriers, the moment he got to F1 or even karting, he broke down barriers and challenged the status quo,” Hill said.
“The knighthood will be seen not only as recognition of your driving, but also as a black driver who has opened another door for anyone who is not white. You have destroyed the preconceived idea that it cannot be done, that there is an area where something cannot be accomplished because of the color of your skin. It has totally destroyed that notion. “
Hamilton’s honor has yet to be officially confirmed, but having conquered this year’s world championship in the last round in Turkey, he claimed his seventh title and in doing so became the most successful F1 driver of all time. He has equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championships, but he also has the most wins and poles, at 94 and 97 respectively.
Only three other F1 drivers have been knighted, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart.
This season, Hamilton has also been outspoken in his public commitment to equality, anti-racism and diversity. He has pushed F1 to pursue these goals and has demonstrated personal commitment and character beyond the demands of driving. Hill believed that honor would only increase his ability to make a difference.
“It’s very rare in our sport to get a knighthood,” he said.
“It is then also a recognition of their position on equality, anti-racism and environmental issues. He’s frank, he’s playing his part, and he’s using his fame for positive purposes. He is a fantastic ambassador and having a knighthood will only increase his opportunities to do that job. “
The British driver received an MBE after earning his first title in 2008 for McLaren. He has been nearly unbeatable in recent years, securing six titles with Mercedes, whom he joined in 2013, in the past seven years. Hill believed the scale of his success was also being recognized. “If you have to win more than anyone else in our sport to get a knighthood, then that’s a measure of how much that achievement has been recognized as exceptional,” he said.
It is believed that Hamilton’s fiscal status may have been an obstacle to his not being knighted earlier. The British driver lives in Monaco, but pays taxes in several countries F1 takes him to, including the UK, where he has a home and where his contributions place him among the top 5,000 contributors.
The government has been pressured to recognize their achievements. The parliamentary group of all F1 parties wrote to Boris Johnson after Hamilton claimed his seventh title, asking him to be honored. Motorsport UK President David Richards also wrote to the Prime Minister setting out the case for Hamilton’s inclusion in the honor roll.
The president of the F1 parliamentary group, Lord Hain, welcomed the decision, if confirmed. “Lewis is not just a serial champion, he is actually the biggest British sports star in the world by far. It should have been a long time ago, ”he said. “The fact that his background is so humble, and the fact that he is black, adds to his incredible achievement. He is a role model for girls and boys, regardless of their origin, whatever their color, in order to reach the sky. “
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