independent.co.uk- Lewis Hamilton has been omitted from the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list, despite winning his sixth Formula One world championship this year to move within one of the all-time record.
Hamilton was awarded an MBE for winning his first world championship 11 years ago, though has been one of the most notable omissions throughout the last decade given his dominance in the sport at the highest level.
Following their World Cup victory earlier in the year, England’s cricketers have been named with four of the team picking up honours, with captain Eoin Morgan picking up a CBE and Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jos Buttler all awarded MBEs, with coach Trevor Bayliss handed an OBE.
Horse racing trainers Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls received OBEs while former Northern Ireland football captain Aaron Hughes received an MBE, along with Rose Reilly who played for Scotland and Italy in the 1970s. Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew also received an MBE, along with former squash world No 1 Laura Massara, ex-England cricketer Alan Knott, Olympic heptathlete Kelly Sotherton and British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen, as well as four-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop.
But there has been a growing clamour for Hamilton to be honoured given his success in sport, having become the second-most successful driver of all-time after claiming his sixth world championship this year in dominant fashion, putting him one behind Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
At present, only three-time world champion Jackie Stewart has been awarded a knighthood, with John Surtees and Nigel Mansell given CBEs after winning one world championship each. Both Damon Hill and father Graham have OBEs along with Jim Clark, with Hamilton and Jenson Button given MBEs following their maiden world titles. The two other British F1 world champions, Mike Hawthorn and James Hunt, were not given any honours, while non-British world champions to be honoured are Alain Prost, Denny Hulme (both OBEs), Alan Jones (MBE) and Sir Jack Brabham, with Stirling Moss the only non-world champion to receive a knighthood.
Two knighthoods have been awarded to team staff in Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head, while the former’s daughter Claire Williams was appointed an OBE in 2016.
Leading figures from the sport have grown in their condemnation for Hamilton’s continuous omission from further recognition, with former F1 team owner and current Motorsport UK chairman David Richards claiming there is not another current sportstar who deserves an honour for their performances.
“I can’t think of anyone more worthy of that recognition than Lewis,” said Richards. “It would be a major oversight if that is not recognised in the New Year honours.
“Lewis is far more remarkable in that he did not come from a privileged background. 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.
“He is a role model for underprivileged children in the UK to show them that anything is possible.”
One argument for Hamilton’s omission is that further recognition could come once his career comes to an end, although the knighthoods and damehoods for the likes of Andy Murray, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill dispel that theory.
Others have pointed to the fact that Hamilton resides in the tax-haven of Monaco, and that just like David Beckham, is being overlooked for not being a UK resident. However, Lord Hain, who sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group for F1, has pointed out that 34-year-old Hamilton is among the top 5,000 tax-payers in the country due to his work for the Brackley-based Mercedes team, and pointed out that he also donates millions each year to charity.
But for Hamilton the honours list has never been too much a concern.
He said last month: “I don’t really like to think too much about it. Just the fact that people have mentioned it, it’s already an honour, but it’s not been something that I’ve been chasing in my life.”
Regardless of where he lives, how much tax he pays or whether he is likeable, Hamilton has proven a trailblazer in the sport. He remains the only black driver to have competed in Formula One, not to mention embarking on an unprecedented run of domination in winning five world championships in six years, and next year he could surpass Schumacher’s win tally on 91 Grands Prix as he sits just seven behind, along with a potentially record-equalling seventh world championship.