Speedy Sir: Lewis Hamilton knighted in year-end royal honors

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FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 file photo, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after wining the Formula One race in Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Hamilton is now a Sir as well as a seven-time Formula One champion after being knighted Wednesday, Dec. 30 in Queen Elizabeth IIs New Year honors list. The awards also recognize British performers, politicians and public servants, as well as people outside the limelight who have worked to defeat the coronavirus and its devastating impact. (Giuseppe Cacace, Pool via AP, File)

LONDON – Lewis Hamilton is now a “Sir” as well as a seven-time Formula One champion.

Hamilton received a knighthood Wednesday as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year's honors list, which also recognized British performers, politicians, public servants and people outside the limelight who worked to defeat the coronavirus and its devastating impacts.

Hamilton, who secured his seventh F1 title last month to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, has said his recent success was partly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The 35-year-old race car driver took the knee on the grid and wore anti-racism slogans during the season.

Hamilton told the BBC last week that “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 utilize that platform” against racism.

Supporters have suggested Hamilton would have been knighted sooner if not for his tax status. Hamilton’s knighthood was awarded in the “overseas” section of the honors list because he lives in low-tax Monaco.

His tax affairs made news in 2017 when the Paradise Papers leak showed he avoided paying more than $4 million in taxes on a private jet registered in the Isle of Man, a tax haven.

Motorsport U.K. Chairman David Richards said Hamilton’s tax status had been “totally misunderstood” and that the racing champion was among the 5,000 highest taxpayers in the U.K.

In other honors, veteran comic actress Sheila Hancock was made a dame, the female equivalent of a knight, in recognition of her six-decade career. Acclaimed makeup artist Pat McGrath, dubbed the “most influential makeup artist in the world” by Vogue, also received a damehood.