Lewis Hamilton became a bonafide Formula One legend when he equalled Michael Schumacher’s world F1 title record on Sunday. Despite this, the British are very little in favour of giving him the honour of a Knighthood.
Lewis Hamilton made history in world sport on Sunday by taking the seventh world Formula 1 championship title, a feat only matched once before in its history. The British driver joins German Michael Schumacher as one of the two most successful drivers in their sport. But this extraordinary performance doesn’t seem to have a huge resonance in the heart of the UK population.
According to a survey conducted by the research company YouGov, only 21% of those questioned (out of a sample of 3,067) are in favour of him being knighted. 46% even believe that he does not deserve to be honoured by the Queen, despite the debates surrounding his number one status as ‘the legend’ of British sport in general.
Perhaps a rather incomprehensible disavowal in view of Hamilton’s performance? For many yes, but Hamilton has always struggled to resonate with the UK public, along with a significant proportion of the F1 fandom.
Before him, many sportsmen and women have been rewarded for their achievements, such as the Scottish tennis player Andy Murray or the athlete Mo Farah, both recently knighted. They now possess the prestigious Sir title before their names.
Brits on whether Lewis Hamilton deserves a knighthood:
— YouGov (@YouGov) October 29, 2020
That said, only seven people have been knighted for their services to motorsport, the most recent being Sir Patrick Head in 2015, for engineering. The last driver to be honoured was Sir Jackie Stewart in 2001, almost 30 years after retiring as a driver.
Further, John Surtees perhaps deserved a Knighthood as both a Formula 1 World Champion, and a Grand Prix motorcycle World Champion, the only person ever to do so. So it could be argued that motorsport, a sport of which the UK excels on the global stage, doesn’t get a fair amount of official recognition within its own borders.
It is true that Hamilton’s drive to take the title was remarkable, achieved despite a car that actually wasn’t class of the field for once. But it cannot be denied that as a sportsman in the UK public eye, Lewis Hamilton is mostly disliked.