The Mercedes team leader has chalked up seven F1 world titles, 95 race wins, 98 pole positions, and 165 podium finishes. Sure, he has had the benefit of very good cars at both Mercedes and McLaren, but he has also had to beat some formidable competition to get his hands on the prize. So it was no surprise at all that he was knighted in this year’s New Year Honours. No-one could quibble at the award. Or maybe they could.
To no surprise at all, it was the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker who trowelled on the nudge-nudgery for the Daily Mail. “Lewis Hamilton was made a knight in the New Year Honours list last night - despite living in the tax haven of Monaco … Hamilton, 35, who is worth more than £250million, quit the UK in 2007 to live in the tax havens of Switzerland and Monaco”. The Mail complaining about tax havens. But do go on.
“Boris Johnson had come under sustained pressure to include Hamilton in the list after a year in which he equalled German ace Michael Schumacher's record with seven F1 titles and became a vocal activist for the Black Lives Matter movement … But Tory MP Andrew Percy questioned why an F1 driver should receive a knighthood on Britain's diplomatic list. He added: 'I would have thought their sponsorship deal would be enough for them.’”
It should be borne in mind at this point that Jackie Stewart, whose career total of 27 F1 world championship victories was a record at the time he retired from the sport in 1973, was already a tax exile when he was awarded an MBE. He has since been knighted. With that thought duly entered, back to the Mail, and its total lack of bigotry, honestly.
“Football fans are furious at the apparent overlooking of Jimmy Greaves in the New Year's Honours after he received just an MBE for his services to football - while Lewis Hamilton will be knighted” came the rant, followed by “[Greaves] became known for his decades of charity work, with most of his England caps and medals having been quietly donated to charitable causes”. Then came the pointed comparison with Hamilton.
“Meanwhile, seven-time F1 champion Hamilton, who is worth an estimated £250million and quit the UK in 2007 to live in the tax havens of Switzerland and Monaco, is being knighted … Twitter users raged about the 'insult', with one commenting: 'He [Hamilton] drove a car that anyone could win with, whereas Jimmy Greaves, a true sportsman, and a gentleman, the greatest goalscorer England has produced, gets an MBE about 50 years too late’”. There is a trawl of Twitter, and lots more dismissiveness for Hamilton.
And while the Mail did not begrudge Stewart his years of living in Switzerland, and indeed is owned by someone with Non-Dom status, it goes after Hamilton and willingly publishes comments which insult and demean the latter’s achievement. But then, there is a difference between Stewart, and indeed Jimmy Greaves, and Lewis Hamilton.
What might that difference be? You might wish to ask that - I couldn’t possibly comment.
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