Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton does not feature in the United Kingdom’s 2020 New Years Honours list, which was revealed on Friday night.
The British Government issued the 2020 New Years Honours list with host of prominent names but not of Mercedes F1 driver Hamilton, who was last recognised in 2009 when he was appointed an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire.
He received the honour citing ‘for services to Motor Racing’. Over the years, motorsport fans have frequently commented that a number of high profile members of the sport have not had the recognition they might expect in the honours system.
There were even campaigns to knight commentator Murray Walker, the voice who inspired many for decades in the UK and beyond, who had been previously appointed OBE, or Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Voices have been raised for John Surtees as well, the only world champion on both two wheels and four, who was appointed initially an MBE, then in 2008 an OBE, and finally in 2016, a CBE, or Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Even with the campaigns, a number of high profile motosport stars have been awarded knighthoods over the years still, including Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Frank Williams, Sir Patrick Head, Sir Malcolm Campbell and Sir Henry Segrave.
The nominations for honours are open to all, and are then reviewed by the Honours Committees made up of senior civil servants and independent members from the relevant disciplines and explanation is given as to why someone is not put forward for an honour.
In recent years, however, the tax position of those nominated has been a factor, and in 2018, it was reported in the UK media that the tax position of nominees would be ranked as low, medium or high risk, which would then be a factor in the award of an honour.
Even though there hasn’t been any admission but the position for Hamilton has been linked to his tax issues in the UK. The likes of David Beckham, Gary Lineker and others even lost a case with HMRC, where their investment schemed was deemed as a method to avoid tax.
Like every season, the fans of Hamilton or Beckham and Lineker, expect a knighthood for them. In the British racer’s case, he comes up high on the list, having won his sixth F1 world championship in 2019, placing him just behind Michael Schumacher.
But it seems like the tax position outweigh all of the achievements for the Government to not bestow the honour, they probably deserve. When Hamilton was asked about a possible knighthood during the Brazil GP weekend, he stated that he doesn’t think much on it.
“Honestly, I don’t really like to think too much about it,” said Hamilton. “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. If, at any point, that was to happen, I don’t particularly know how I would handle it.
“I have stood in front of Her Majesty The Queen before and it was pretty incredible and I think she’s just awesome. Again, I don’t think it’s going to happen, and again, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean I’m not British.
“It doesn’t mean I’m not continuing to try and raise the flag as well as I can but I do appreciate all the support I’ve had from my fans and also from the British media.” While Hamilton missed the cut but there were plenty of sportsperson in the 2020 list.
The full list is available, here.
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The story was written by Mark Haggan and edited by Darshan Chokhani