On 12 December, seven-time Formula 1 World Drivers Champion Lewis Hamilton MBE missed the 2021 Drivers’ title by a whisker. However, three days later he had the consolation of receiving an honour that will never be within his rival’s grasp.
The British-born Mercedes driver received a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours. In a ceremony at Windsor Castle on Wednesday 15 December, the honour was bestowed on him by Prince Charles. The 36-year-old was accompanied to the ceremony by his mother, Carmen.
Hamilton is the fourth Formula 1 driver to be knighted, following in the tyre-tracks of Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham. He will now be officially referred to as Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton MBE.
The recognition went some way to dispelling disappointment in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Dutchman Max Verstappen was on pole position as the race started, but Hamilton managed to get ahead and looked set for a win and a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ title. However, an accident involving another driver and the use of the safety car gave Verstappen a chance to change his car’s tyres. The new tyres boosted the Red Bull driver’s performance and he overtook Hamilton on the last lap, winning both the race and the championship. It was a nail-biting end to one of the most controversial races in motor sport history.
The controversy rumbles on, as despite winning the Constructors’ Championship for the eighth time, the Mercedes team remains aggrieved at the way the Abu Dhabi GP was conducted. Both Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff refused to attend the FIA prize-giving ceremony in Paris on 16 December.