Mercedes ace Hamilton drew level with Michael Schumacher when he picked up his seventh world title this year, in the process also surpassing the German legend’s previous record tally of 91 Grand Prix victories to become the most successful driver the sport has ever seen.
After Hamilton wrapped up his latest F1 title the clamor grew for the Stevenage-born racer to be knighted to recognize his astounding achievements on the track, as well as his campaigning for the Black Lives Matter movement and more diversity in motorsport.
However, critics down the years have consistently pointed to Hamilton’s tax status as the star – who is said to have a net worth of $285 million – spends much of his time in Monaco.
To avoid any controversy, UK leader Johnson is said to have intervened personally to ensure Hamilton was knighted, placing F1 ace on the ‘Diplomatic and Overseas’ section to swerve doubts over his payments to the tax coffers in his homeland.
The news that the 35-year-old speed king would be rewarded for his sensational career and services to motorsport was met with widespread praise online, including from his Mercedes team and the official F1 account.
The new CEO of F1, Stefano Domenicali, hailed the star as a “true giant of our sport.”
“His influence is huge both in and out of a car,” Domenicali added. “What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come. All of us at Formula 1 congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021.”
Unsurprisingly though, there was some lingering dissent as fans continued to accuse the country of bending the rules amid Hamilton’s tax controversy.
One Twitter user even accused Hamilton of being “knighted for services to hypocrisy.”
In Hamilton’s defense, fans asserted that the star was still among the top 5,000 taxpayers in the UK despite his home in the millionaires’ playground on the Mediterranean coast.
Hamilton is the fourth F1 driver to be knighted and follows fellow Brits Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart, and Australia’s Sir Jack Brabham.
Earlier in December, Hamilton scooped the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.