David Richards, the head of British motor racing’s governing body, has said it would be a major oversight if Lewis Hamilton is not recognised with a knighthood in the new year honours list.
Hamilton won his sixth Formula One world championship last season and is second only to Michael Schumacher, who won seven, as the most successful driver in history. He is has only seven fewer grand prix wins than the German’s record of 91.
Richards has been a strong supporter of the Labour peer Lord Hain, who wrote to the prime minister in November urging that Hamilton should be honoured.
“Naturally as the governing body of motorsport in the UK we wholeheartedly support Peter Hain,” said Richards, the chairman of Motorsport UK. “I can’t think of anyone more worthy of that recognition than Lewis. It would be a major oversight if that is not recognised in the new year honours.”
Hamilton received an OBE in 2008 after he won his first championship. Since then Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Andy Murray and Alastair Cook have been knighted. Three F1 drivers have been made sirs, all many years after they retired: Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham.
Richards believes Hamilton,’s achievements are equally worthy of recognition, not least because he has had to work so hard. The 34-year-old grew up on a council estate in Stevenage and remains the only black driver in F1. His father, Anthony, had to commit himself personally and financially to helping his son’s career.
“Lewis is far more remarkable in that he did not come from a privileged background,” Richards said. “He and his father worked incredibly hard to get into karting and up the steps of the ladder. It was sheer hard graft, not gifted to him on a plate. They made huge sacrifices and that makes his achievements even more extraordinary.”
Hamilton could go on to beat both Schumacher’s records and Richards said the Mercedes driver’s inspirational achievements deserve acknowledgement.
“He is a role model for underprivileged children in the UK to show them that anything is possible,” he said. “I hope he uses that to help and leave a legacy for other kids to show their ambitions are achievable.”
When asked about a knighthood earlier this year Hamilton said: “I don’t really like to think too much about it. The fact people have mentioned it, it’s already an honour but it’s not been something I’ve been chasing in my life.”
Hamilton was beaten into second place by Ben Stokes for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award but the former cricketer Darren Gough also said Hamilton should be honoured. “I’m a massive F1 fan and Lewis Hamilton doesn’t get the credit I think he deserves. He should have a knighthood by now. Six world titles, 84 grand prix wins but he’s just got caught in a year where Ben Stokes has been out of this world.”