Lewis Hamilton’s incredible year has been capped by a knighthood for services to motorsport.
The 35-year-old equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One world titles this year as he continues to dominate the sport, and his achievements have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.
Hamilton has not resided permanently in the UK since 2007, and his knighthood was included on the Diplomatic and Overseas List.
He initially moved to Switzerland and then on to Monaco, both considered tax havens, though he has defended the amount of tax he pays in the UK.
In an interview with the Sunday Times in 2017, he said: “What people don’t realise is that I pay tax here, but I don’t earn all my money here.
“I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places and I pay tax in several different places, and I pay a lot here as well.
“I am contributing to the country and, not only that, I help keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed. I am part of a much bigger picture.”
Hamilton built his reputation as a prodigious junior karter, and made his F1 debut in 2007 with McLaren.
His maiden title was won with that team too in 2008 but Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull then took centre stage, before a move to Mercedes for the 2013 season changed everything.
He won the world championship in 2014 and 2015, lost out to Nico Rosberg in 2016 but has dominated ever since, with 2020 his fourth title in a row.
The magnificent seven was completed in Turkey in November, and he won 11 races in the 2020 season in all.
He surpassed Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins with his triumph in Portugal in October.
Hamilton has used his winning platform to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with protests spreading around the world following the death of black man George Floyd in police custody in the United States in May.
Sitting in as guest editor on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Boxing Day, Hamilton told Professor David Olusoga: “I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races.
“It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past, to get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform (for Black Lives Matter) and shine the light as bright as possible.”
Asked by Olusoga if he had been concerned about the response to his stance, Hamilton replied: “There is no way that I could stay silent. And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear.”
A contract for next year is still to be signed, but 2021 could be the year Hamilton overtakes Schumacher to be the most decorated driver in the history of the sport.
Stefano Domenicali, who will become the new president and chief executive of F1 in January, said: “Lewis is a true giant of our sport and his influence is huge both in and out of a car.
“What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come. All of us at Formula One congratulate him on this well deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021”