Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2020

Hamilton’s knighthood gives him and his sport deserved and overdue recognition

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton‘s inclusion in the United Kingdom’s New Year Honours list is significant, not only because the record-setting Formula 1 world champion’s knighthood has been forced through by the prime minister, but because Hamilton becomes the first active F1 driver so honoured. Assuming he renews his contract with Mercedes, that is.

Just five F1 personalities had previously been knighted: Drivers Sirs Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham, plus team figures Frank Williams and Patrick Head. The first three were honoured after they had retired from active competition, while the Williams team founders felt the touch of the royal sword towards the end of their careers.

In contrast, various champions in numerous other sports – many with lesser global appeal than F1 – have been knighted while at the peaks of their careers. Figures in the spheres of entertainment, business and politics are regularly honoured while in office. Indeed, a number of sports personalities have been knighted after a single title or medal won, yet both Stewart and Brabham had scored triple titles and retired before being recognised.

The UK honours operates to a ‘traffic light’ system, with red signifying ‘no chance’, amber meaning ‘must try harder’ and green being a signal to ‘practice your kneeling’. There have long been official concerns about certain aspects of Hamilton’s affairs, not least his tax record – he has been resident in Monaco for a decade, while his private jet, now sold, was said to have been acquired via creative accounting.

But Hamilton is entitled to live in Monaco or wherever he fancies. And, as Baron Peter Hain maintains, Hamilton features among the top 5,000 UK taxpayers. The issue was that HMRC, the UK revenue service, has been unable to fully assess his compliance.

Hamilton’s 95th race win set a new record
Hamilton, meanwhile, has pointed out that his activities support thousands of jobs at Mercedes’ F1 base in Northamptonshire. That may be so, but it is not as if they would be laid off if he retired.

The problem for high earners is that the UK’s top tax rate is 45%, which means that for almost every second lap completed by a British-based grand prix driver, his earnings head to the Treasury. True, company executives face the same burden, but sitting round a boardroom table hardly carries the same risks as sliding into a cockpit. Plus, race drivers have limited earnings windows.

The flipside is that Britain’s infrastructure made it possible for Hamilton to realise his dreams. The grandson of Grenadian immigrants, he is unlikely to have scaled the heights of F1 had the family not settled in the UK – Hamilton’s mother Carmen is English – while his junior career was largely funded by McLaren in partnership with Mercedes-Benz UK and other commercial interests. It is only fitting that he pays some dues in the UK.

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Understandably, tax issues are frowned upon by civil servants, who are said to have given him an ‘amber’. This does not, though, suit the populist style of prime minister Boris Johnson. Hamilton counts as a full-on British hero, having risen from a Stevenage housing estate to not only dominate a mainly white sport, but break or equal every meaningful F1 record en route, and become a global sports icon.

In addition to his sporting prowess Hamilton has embraced veganism and pushed for greater environmental awareness. Arguably his greatest public achievement has been his high-profile campaign for the Black Lives Matter movement – he persuaded 70% of his grid peers to ‘take a knee’ pre-race. In June Hamilton founded his eponymous Commission in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Engineering in order to research and improve the representation of black people in British motorsport.

Others would likely have been honoured for any one of these activities – sporting, environmental or social matters. The mere fact that Stewart is the only home-grown world champion to have been (belatedly) knighted suggests that Buckingham Palace and successive governments viewed motorsport with varying degrees of suspicion. This situation is unlikely to have been aided by the past antics of some of F1’s figures.

Should Hamilton decline his long-awaited knighthood?
Still, as evidenced by Brexit, what Johnson wants he invariably gets by whatever means – fair, foul or filibuster – and so it is with Hamilton’s knighthood. The honours system provides for a Diplomatic Service and Overseas List which, according to the Gov.uk website, “recognises people who have given exceptional service to the UK abroad and internationally” (for comparison, a recent list of other overseas recipients of honours can be found here).

It is absolutely fitting that Hamilton is being honoured at the end of his record-equalling seventh championship season. More gratifying, though, is that the Palace has at last recognised that F1 has a place in the British honours system, particularly given the valuable contribution made by the sport during the pandemic.

On that basis ‘Sir Lewis’ will be rising to the sword not only in celebration of his achievements, but also on behalf of the entire British F1 industry.

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97 comments on “Hamilton’s knighthood gives him and his sport deserved and overdue recognition”

  1. Congratulations to him. Well deserved looking at whom else gets it. Totally a UK thing however with limited global appeal.

    1. racefans.net is back to f1fanatic.co.uk

      1. It’s pretty interesting that this article is written by a German-born journalist who lives in Belgium. Not the person you’d expect to care about this British institution or to be so uncritical of the very concept.

        Interestingly, there is only one German federal order of merit. It’s mostly the states that have their own orders. The cities of Bremen and Hamburg reject any orders and by tradition their citizens reject any decoration in the form of an order. For example, the former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt did so.

        Dieter seems to be from the Hamburg region, so I wonder if he is also raised in this tradition and would refuse an order of merit?

        1. Dieter Rencken is South African, not German. He was born in Natal provence.

          1. @Broke84 – Thanks for correcting the record on my behalf. Not only was I born in Natal, but in Pietermaritzburg, then known colloquially as the ‘Last Outpost of the British Empire’. In addition I lived in London for ten years, and subscribe to numerous UK newspapers and magazines. I believe these provided some insights into the British honours system.

            Any advances on that, @Aapje?

          2. I got confused because there is a Hermannsburg near Hamburg, but apparently also one in South Africa.

          3. @aapje, don’t worry – I’ve gotten used to you being confused.

          4. How can any Racefans commenter not know that Dieter is African? This must surely count as some form of racism – attributing every good thing done by an African to some imaginary European.
            Dieter is ours, us Africans. Don’t try to misappropriate him, please!

          5. Thanks NeverElectric – but not to worry @aapje’s entire political premise falls flat over an incorrect geographic assertion.

          6. @NeverElectric

            I knew it, but I forgot. It’s not something I consider all that important, generally. In this case, it was more that I was wondering why Dieter cared.

          7. South African–it explains alot.

          8. Pietermaritzburg stems from the Dutch colonial period. Pieter is a well known name in the Netherlands. Burg is as well but that is also common in Germany (Ham-burg.. etc.) Very funny that the Brits called a Zuid-Afrikaner village the: ‘Last Outpost of the British Empire’. This is of course not surprising because they like to claim Victories (Waterloo as a British Victory).
            During the BoerWar the Dutch said that England was stealing a colony. They did not mention the stealing of this magnificent part of the world from the original population by themselves.

          9. @Jeroen Bons

            Nearly all non-white people in South Africa have displaced the original Khoisan population too, in part long before Europeans arrived. History is full of people stealing land from those that had stolen it, one way or the other.

    2. What a spicy thread! I’m loving it.

  2. Great news, congrats to Sir Lewis and I think that Sir Ron Dennis should be up there as well.

    1. Agreed , Sir Ron Dennis should be there too, a real surprise he’s not, probably on ‘Amber’ . :)

      Nice Artitcle going into more details about the honour system than you would typically find with a British report. Well researched covering all the bases.

      Personally i would sooner this Honor have occured ‘after’ Hamilton retirement. It might get in the way of his future accomplishments. Its one of those honors where the person initiating it, looks good. Kudus to the prime minister then.

      Still it’s deserved and will hopefully have more people taking Hamilton seriously, just as long as Hamilton doesn’t take himself too seriously, and continues to do what he is first famous for. I can’t help but think this is now going to mess with his private life.

    2. Ron Has done things for business reasons in my opinion. He has done some charity stuff recently… But Ron Stood for other lucrative things. Even helping Lewis could be argued for McLaren’s benefit more than anything else. As much as I respect him I don’t think he deserves any Knighthood.

  3. Wonder if commentators will refer to him as Sir Lewis now?

    1. I know of one that certainly will. David Croft!I can hear him practicing now.

  4. Spot on!

  5. Not a big fan of knighting sportsmen, but Lewis’ efforts this year off the track have been worthy.

  6. And in the wider motorsport world a deserved MBE for John McGuinness. Multiple Isle of Man TT winner.

  7. Plus, race drivers have limited earnings windows.

    That’s also true for a bunch of other professions, where people don’t earn enough to retire. Yet we expect these people to get another job afterwards. F1 drivers are very privileged in this regard. They earn very well and typically don’t seem to have serious permanent physical damage.

    In contrast, there are a lot of athletes who never earn a big salary (or even more than a low stipend), but who do serious damage to their body that will hamper them for the rest of their lives. Most soldiers also have no prospect of a full career in the military and have to find a new career afterwards. Infantry seem to get structurally overloaded with gear, causing serious physical damage to be the norm.

    Lewis in particular seems unlikely to have a problem finding a new job (or needing one). With more than 20 million Instagram followers and a ton of name recognition, he can spend the rest of his life advertising products or whatever. He probably never will have to actually seek a job again, but is going to be inundated with offers after his career, so he merely has to choose what he accepts.

    Even if that wasn’t true, he has hundreds of millions in lifetime earnings, so even if half of that got taxed away (it didn’t and wouldn’t even if he had stayed in the UK due to tax deductions and the like), he would still be extremely rich (to qualify for the top 1% in the UK requires a little over 3 million pounds of assets).

    This makes it rather…strange to defend his tax avoidance on the basis of him needing to secure his financial future.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      31st December 2020, 11:17

      I’m with you here @aapje this article misses the mark.

      Ham might be in the top 5,000 earners, but he’s in the top 600 richest people, and since he’s added most of that recently it stands to reason he sits much higher in the earners list.

      The problem for high earners is that the UK’s top tax rate is 45%, which means that for almost every second lap completed by a British-based grand prix driver, his earnings head to the Treasury.

      So? That still works out at £31,263 per lap in 2020. Is the article arguing that the UK top tax rate is a bad thing or not?

      And good on plucky little F1 in finally rising up and being recognised by the royal family?

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        31st December 2020, 11:20

        *top 5000 taxpayers

      2. So is this based on his UK earnings, or worldwide earnings? If its worldwide then that should surely be compared to his worldwide tax liability.
        I assume you accept that for example his US earnings will be taxed in the US, and likewise for the other seven or so countries that tax him at source.

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          31st December 2020, 11:40

          @riptide I just used his Merc contract salary

        2. So you are happy with his record of tax avoidance, in a year where many in the UK are losing their jobs and loved ones, you are making excuses for a multi millionaire to pay less than he should? Shameful.

          1. I’m very happy that in general he pays tax in the country where he earns it, pays some form of tax in some of the countries where he resides, and is not taxed on his nationality. Seems to me he is no different to a lot of people in his position such as film stars, top musicians who have various revenue streams across the world. And no different to those hundred or so in a similar position receiving awards who go through the tax review process.
            But tell me, how much tax should he have paid last year, and how much tax did he in fact pay. I assume you know given your views on this.

          2. Paying all his tax in the UK wouldn’t save a single job. It’s an old fact, but Simon Cowell who is more or less permanently in the US pays more UK tax than the entire speed camera cash generation.

            Amazon, Google, Facebook paid less than 1%. I know which I’m more opposed to.

          3. No laws or rules have been broken and Lewis contributes greatly to the British economy. If people have lost their.jobs this year that is not Lewis’ fault. Perhaps Covid was his fault too? World hunger? Poverty?
            I wish people would just say ” I dont like Lewis” instead of making stupid unfounded comments that try to diminish his peerless achievements.

          4. @DeanR

            All that is lawful is not moral.

          5. @riptide

            I’m quite certain that Lewis doesn’t pay taxes in Austria, Singapore, Belgium, etc over the money he gets paid for driving there. The way basic employment contracts work is that people pay taxes in their primary place of residence. For Lewis this has been Switzerland and then Monaco.

            Lewis has never driven a F1 race in Switzerland, so none of the taxes he paid in Switzerland were actually earned there. He did earn money in Monaco, but only about 1/20th of his salary.

            Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, etc get criticized for not paying taxes in the countries where they do business, which is somewhat similar to what Lewis is doing. So it seems fair to criticize Lewis similarly, if one believes that people should pay taxes where they do their job (and use the facilities and such that the government paid for).

            And if one believes that people who make it have an obligation to the community that invested in them, proportionately to how well they end up, then one can criticize Lewis for not doing that.

    2. @aapje So you support a progressive distributive tax system? Great! Isn’t that a bit ‘leftist’ for you though?

      1. @david-br

        Yes, but I’m quite confident that you have very little understanding of my beliefs and why I reject the modern left.

        The main reason is that I believe that their main focus is catering to the desires of the cognitive elite, who tend to do fairly well in modern society. In so far that they ‘care’ about the lower classes, it tends to consist of giving them what they should want, according to the elite, rather than what they actually want (or need).

        According to modern left ideology, people cannot represent those who are different from them, when those differences play are role. So they really, really want women and non-whites to be well-represented in politics, boardrooms, etc. They can’t stop talking/writing about it (see this site as one example). Yet there is almost no interest in having people from poor backgrounds be well-represented, even though they are extremely underrepresented in politics and boardrooms (and F1). Scientific studies also suggest that class discrimination is extremely strong, far more so than racism (in fact, many studies into racism seem to misidentify classism as racism, which happens easily, because black people are far more often lower class).

        When people ignore their ideology when applying it consistently would benefit a certain group, that is a clear sign that they don’t actually care about that group. Of course, most people don’t want to admit to that, unless it is acceptable to hate that group and being inconsistent is an easy way to not have to admit to it.

        Let me give an example. In my country, we supposedly have fairly generous welfare. Yet over time, the subsidy system was changed to one that caters quite well to the middle class and up, but very poorly to those that need help the most. Subsidies are now based on a prediction of the financial situation of the person in the upcoming period and then they are given an advance. Then if it turns out that the prediction is wrong, they get more money or they have to pay it back. This works reasonably well for people similar to the politicians who made these laws, for whom such subsidies are a relatively low fraction of their salary and who either have reserves or can cut out a lot of luxury spending. Yet it’s absolutely devastating when people who live paycheck to paycheck have to pay back a relatively large amount, for instance because they got too much subsidy for a longer period. These people may no longer be able to afford food or rent.

        This system also requires people to report changes that (may) affect the subsidy, which requires substantial knowledge of bureaucratic rules, insight in their personal situation and a well-organized life, which is of course a huge problem for those at the bottom of society. Failure to follow the bureaucratic rules tends to result in severe consequences (like having to repay the entire subsidy amount plus 50% as a fine, which can be most of these people’s income). The people at the bottom of society typically have to follow more bureaucratic rules, even as they are less capable of doing so. They also tend to have more volatile lives than the higher classes, which means that the prediction is more often wrong and reporting all these changes is more work. The end result is a disaster. Quite a few people now simply don’t ask for the subsidies that they are entitled to, because the risk of ruin is too great. So food banks and other private ventures to help the (working) poor are increasingly popular, as the government is catering to them less and less. It’s a government for the well-educated and better off, by the well-educated and better off.

        And the Dutch leftist parties have been at the forefront of replacing the old system that worked much better with this monstrosity. And as the harms became clear, did they make it their number one priority to reform this system? Nope, instead they prioritize new subsidies for the middle class. I get it, those are their voters. Personal interest usually wins out. Yet it means that Dutch leftists parties are mostly not parties that help the lower classes and certainly not parties of the lower classes.

        As far as I can tell, the same is true in most of the West. In the UK, the children of poor whites have the worst educational attainment, while it is now much harder to gain access to the better jobs without advanced education than in the past. Yet of course, specifically wanting to help poor whites is called ‘racist’ by the modern left. In fact, all white people are accused of benefiting from “white privilege,” including the white communities that do worse than non-white communities. Yet wanting to specifically want to help other races is not racist. In my view, actual racism is not wanting to help the downtrodden because you stereotype them as privileged based on their race. In fact, this is a classic type of racism that Jews have faced for centuries.

        And then modern leftists are surprised that the lower classes stop voting for them, that populism is on the rise, that they vote against neoliberal projects that are very popular with the modern left like large scale migration while that mostly harms the lower classes (where not even an attempt is made to remedy those harms).

        TL;DR: I oppose the modern left because I want things to get better for the lower classes, rather than for the faux socialists who pretend to help the downtrodden, but mostly help themselves.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          31st December 2020, 18:06

          The Left has been migrating since 1990 to Identity Politics as Fukuyama summarized in 2016. There are now few old-timer leftists claiming for class issues.

          1. @Jose Lopes da Silva

            George Orwell already noted in 1937 that there are two kinds of socialists: the kind that hate the rich and the kind that loves the poor. The former mostly being middle class or up. They also tend to want to take money from the rich primarily to spend on their own class.

            I think that the changes that happened to the left are caused by improved access to education. In the past, there were a lot of very smart people who never got the opportunity to study. The industrial revolution made class society untenable, because society became too dynamic. This then allowed quite a few smart people from lower classes to gain positions of power, including in leftist organizations like unions and political parties. These people weren’t ‘corrupted’ by spending most of their lives around the higher classes, where they were constantly being fed rationalizations that benefit the higher classes and reasons to ignore the demands of the lower class (for example, by dismissing it as ‘populism,’ which literally just means that you try to advance the interests of the common people, rather than that of the elite).

            So for some time, the faux socialists faced a solid block of people with a lower class background, who actually cared about that class. The result was a huge improvement to the situation for the lower classes.

            Nowadays there are relatively few people who are very smart, but didn’t get molded by university. Even worse, those that are smart, but without the ‘right’ degrees face immense obstacles. There is immense stigma against people who take unorthodox routes to power/wealth and/or who haven’t adopted the culture of the upper classes. This is true for most leftist organizations as well. They are filled with faux socialists, who are so dominant that they can now just keep out the actual socialists.

            The result is that things have been getting worse for the lower classes for some time now. This seems to have started when throughout the West, leftist organizations abandoned socialism and embraced neoliberalism, with leaders like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

          2. William Jones
            5th January 2021, 10:36

            ” (for example, by dismissing it as ‘populism,’ which literally just means that you try to advance the interests of the common people, rather than that of the elite).”

            I don’t know if there is an accepted definition for the term, but the way I use it is to describe a politician who says whatever their audience wants to hear. For example Boris Johnson _in the same day_ promising one audience – working parents – that schools would not close, but about an hour later, in front of NHS staff, promising that there would be another lockdown imminent. These two promises were entirely incompatible with each other, as he very well know. But he’s a populist so he’s happy to promise things he knows are untrue – read as lie – to his audience. You might think this is a stupid tactic, but apparently it works.

          3. @William Jones

            Somehow the people who claim to use it that way, never use the same term when leftists and/or (traditional) elites tell their audience what they want to hear, no matter how absurd.

            For example, when Dutch politicians said that the ‘light would go out’ and that we would have war if we voted against the EU constitution, this is not called populism, even though the globalists love to hear that kind of fear-mongering. Yet when people on the right talk about what they believe to be the bad consequences of migration, this is suddenly populism.

            In general, the entire idea that there is any politician who doesn’t tell their audience what they want to hear is a fiction by people who pretend that their own side is perfect and totally fact-based, while the other side is a bunch of puppets controlled by lying politicians.

        2. @aapje Well, thanks for taking the time to explain. I recently visited some of the first industrial mills in England and it was striking how the slave economy on the colonial plantations was applied to these mills and the local (white) workforce, down to creating a humid environment to keep the cotton moist (which exacerbated infectious disease transmission). The ‘working class’ in the UK was created on those colonial moulds by the same people in power. So basically I don’t see the difference you seem able to make between class discrimination and racial discrimination: they’re both critical, intertwined issues. Indeed, as Hamilton’s own background illustrates. I think what you’re calling ‘leftism’ is what would be called New Labourism or Blairism in the UK: a neoliberal technocratic ‘socialism’ in name only which indeed abandoned its roots with working class communities, fostered immigration with the EU expansion into Eastern Europe, and paid lip service to numerous ‘identity’ issues. However there is a considerable leftwing movement, old and young, that rejects ‘third way’ politics but still insists racism is a central issue that still shapes UK society in profound ways. I prefer that to the white-only nativist politics you seem to be espousing?

          1. @david-br

            I’m not a white-only nativist. I’m a cultural and economic nationalist (at least, relative to the globalists, I’m not very nationalist historically). Large scale migration prohibits integration and causes society to fall apart into groups that stop interacting and caring for each other. It destroys the nation as an actual community, which is a crucial tool for democracy, human rights and a society that takes care of the downtrodden.

            It makes no difference to me if the people in that nation are white, black or purple, as long as they are part of the nation in a real sense (rather than by merely being present physically).

            My objection to the ‘woke’ narrative on racism is that:
            – It’s in large part based on lies, falsehoods and illogical conclusions
            – It’s extremely racist, in that people are stereotyped purely by their race and treated differently purely based on their race

            So basically I don’t see the difference you seem able to make between class discrimination and racial discrimination

            I think that’s because you don’t understand why people discriminate. You probably see people as either bigots or ‘inclusive.’ So they either discriminate against blacks, lower class people, women, etc or they do not. Yet this is wrong and such a viewpoint blinds you.

            The actual reason is that people believe that it is necessary or at least useful to achieve their goals. A person can be very inclusive in one way and yet extremely discriminatory in another way. A person can be racist against black people as a group, yet have a black friend. An exploited person can discriminate against his oppressors in so far as he can, in an attempt to preserve some dignity. A person can discriminate another person in one situation, but discriminate in their favor in another situation.

            So it’s perfectly possible for people to discriminate against the lower classes, while not discriminating black people, or discriminating in their favor. It all depends on their goals, which can vary a lot.

            The modern left tend to categorize groups as oppressed or oppressors in general. The result is that they are blind to all kinds of discrimination, like anti-white discrimination among blacks, where other black people are discriminated against for behaving in ways that are not considered part of black culture (like studying hard or saving money to invest in business). This is a kind of discrimination that is not intended to be exploitative, but to preserve a community. A similar kind exists among deaf people, where there is discrimination and anger against people who get implants, because they fear that their unique community is destroyed.

            There is also the common misconception that discrimination is irrational, even though most stereotypes are true in the sense that the group difference does exist. This means that a lot of discrimination is actually effective at achieving the goal. Denying this results in a lack of understanding of why people discriminate, when they discriminate & when they don’t and also, tends to make people rationalize their own discrimination as justified, when they don’t accept it when others do likewise.

            A way to reduce discrimination can then be to find a way to reduce those group differences. For example, the toxic masculinity narrative is an attempt to change male culture. People on the (modern) left typically consider it perfectly fair for women to discriminate against men, by treating them as dangerous and put the onus on men as a group to ‘earn’ better treatment, where it is considered perfectly acceptable if men who are not ‘toxic’ to be discriminated against for things they are not guilty of.

            Of course, the mainstream in our current society is currently not anywhere near capable of understanding this, so this might be too alien for you to understand, as well.

            racism is a central issue that still shapes UK society in profound ways.

            What I constantly see is that there is an alleged inequality (which is often exaggerated) and then it is claimed that this is entirely caused by racism (but only if the inequality fits the narrative), so then it is asserted that by fixing racism, this inequality is removed.

            Yet just about all of these claims are partly or entirely false. There are typically many non-racist causes, so removing racism completely is not going to achieve anywhere close to the desired result. Not that modern leftist remedies have any hope of removing racism. It seems more likely to do the opposite (and some of that has already been scientifically proven, as diversity training has been shown to make people more biased).

            For example, it is claimed that American black people are killed more often than white people by the police due to racism. What is ignored is that men are also killed more often than women, so based on the same logic, there is enormous sexism among cops that is killing men and we need: Men’s Lives Matter. Yet the actual truth is that the reason that both groups get killed by the police more is first and foremost that they commit crimes far more often than women and white people. The narrative that the cause is that white cops are racist has been completely disproved scientifically, with statistical analysis showing that black cops kill black civilians more often than white cops.

            Some truths are displeasing, because they don’t put all the blame on the designated scapegoat. Or reality turns out to be gray, rather than the preferred black/white interpretation. Or it turns out that there are 10 causes instead of one, so you can’t simply solve it by addressing one issue. Or it means that you have to change your own behavior in ways you don’t want. Or it means that you have to stop pretending to be oppressed, rather than an oppressor.

            At this moment, I consider the left to be very dangerous on the whole. The leftists who run their movement try to replace non-racism with ‘anti-racism,’ which is really just racism. They try to silence dissent. They have too much control over institutions and are cleansing them of dissenters, removing checks and balances that prevent extremism. Scientific studies are increasingly ‘unpublished’ merely for having findings that are considered to be morally wrong, not because the studies are flawed (or more flawed than studies that are considered acceptable).

          2. William Jones
            5th January 2021, 10:55

            @aapje – there are very few nations that were not created by constant mixing of people from different cultures. For example, England would not exist if not for the Beaker People subsuming the Celtic culture, who were invaded by the Romans, and that empire went through great cultural changes along it’s length and breadth – who then adopted a North Atlantic culture when the Romans retreated, who then were invaded by Danes and other Northman, who then invited the Angles over who then were invaded by the Normans, who then created the worlds largest empire, and subsumed cultures from around the world.

            If you had your way, you would have England still inhabited by the Beaker people. You might think that’s fine, but I would say that you just don’t appreciate English culture if you think it’s lesser or weaker than the “pure” beakers. It’s all the richer for our history. Had they been left alone, no influx of people, then the English culture, which you would be fighting tooth and nail to preserve exactly as it is now if you were English, literally wouldn’t exist.

            So you see, your idea is just a form of exceptioonalism – “Things could not possibly be any better than they are when I was a boy, stop trying to change it.” No matter when you were born, this attitude would have prevented the exact thing you think right now is best. So let the next generation create their own culture – this is the most important thing – you don’t have to participate. If English people with your attitude want to continue to dance around the maypole every year, eat jellied eels and go out morris dancing, then they still can. The fact that curry exists doesn’t stop them eating jellied eels, the fact that Netflix shows American tv doesn’t stop them from morris dancing and the fact that people celebrate christmas doesn’t stop them dancing around the maypole. They engage in all these foreign pursuits, rather than their actual culture, because they prefer it. Sorry you don’t like that, sorry you feel you need to make up stuff to justify your ludditeness, but that’s the truth of it. People like foreign cultures and will happily welcome them so long as it enriches their lives. No-one cares about you, enjoy your (insert whatever your country did for fun, before tv was invented by a foreigner) and stop moaning about people enjoying stuff you don’t like.

          3. @William Jones

            Your example just supports my point. The migration of Beaker People didn’t cause a multicultural society or even a change in culture, but a nearly full replacement (as genetic studies show). You seem to just be completely agnostic to any change or the manner in which it happens. I guess that you are a big fan of how Native Americans were treated, the Holocaust, etc. After all, without those, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

            You falsely attribute beliefs to me, assuming that I think that all cultures are of equal value or that I oppose any change. Neither is true. You claim that “people like foreign cultures and will happily welcome them so long as it enriches their lives.” However, my point is exactly that not all of this enriches people’s lives, especially at the bottom of society. There is a big difference between tikka masala and having native workers in entire sectors being replaced with cheaper foreigners. There is a big difference between people freely adopting culture or being forced by elites, where the latter is often happening.

            You claim that I’m alone in my beliefs, so I guess that you have missed Brexit, as well as ‘populism’ increasing everywhere, as lots of people are getting fed up with people like you who are fine with the lower classes suffering, a lack of true democracy and much more.

    3. I don’t know what he present pays in tax to the UK, but i’m sure he’s putting the money he saves in tax, to much better uses. And that should also be appluded.

      I think the whole point is to encourage sound role models. That’s not to say there haven’t been Knights of the realm with doubious backgrounds, being anything but role models. Hamilton serves as an example of what is possible when people are fair, open minded and prepared to see talent with all its potential.

      Makes you wonder though, imagine if Hamilton had not taken that crucial decision to leave McLaren. Nevermind his decisions on the track, Hamilton’s decisions off the track should be commended.

    4. Show me anybody that regularly pays at the higher tax rates that doesn’t use an accountant and tax advisor. I did before retiring and my son does.
      P.S. The tax advisor was previously a high ranking tax inspector.

      1. I know of people, but they have acquired the knowledge themselves over years of how to best handle their affairs.

  8. Interesting snippet. I just read Damon Hills twitter. His dad was due to receive one, but died just before the event. And they dont award posthumously. I never knew that.

  9. Weird. I thought I was browsing a motorsport news site but it looks like I was accidentally redirected to a site writing about UK’s domestic news. How odd.

    1. Weird. It’s like f1’s most succesful driver receiving an honour from his country of birth isn’t somehow related to f1. If you don’t like the work racefans.net does you could always, I dunno, not read it?

    2. Also worth mentioning that this is an English print site, there are many other F1 sites in other languages, canal+ is one but perhaps any news on Gasly or Grosjean or Ocon would be too domestic for you

      1. Before determining if it’s worth mentioning you should have read up on the reasons why Keith chose a .net domain rather than continuing with .co.uk.

        1. @coldfly I’m defending the article and the author who should obviously report on this as it is f1 news, my comment was more a point that the article is written in English so obviously it is not odd that it would talk about a UK award to an english driver. If i sound wound up by the comment I commented on it’s because I get annoyed when people think they should decide what is noteworthy f1 news rather than the racefans team.

          1. @broke84

            English is the modern lingua franca. The benefit is that English-speakers can make themselves be understood in most of the world. However, a consequence is that you don’t just get to keep things for yourself.

            Besides, a majority of native speakers of English are not from the UK.

          2. I get annoyed when people think they should decide what is noteworthy f1 news

            A nice part of this site though is that readers can comment and share their opinion.
            If that gets you wound up so easily then maybe this site (or at least the comment section) is not for you ;)

          3. @coldfly thanks for sharing your opinion but I’m good thanks. I’m happy with my opinions, and I will continue to be how I am. As I said, I defend the article and the more accepting words of people here. Incidently you’re one of the people who i consider level headed here and I will only evzr get negative at those criticising the site when they can just go elsewhere or those spewing racist nonsense.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      31st December 2020, 11:22

      @huhhii – Can you find me a single motorsports news website that isn’t covering this story?

      1. @petebaldwin

        Come on, it’s much more than mere reporting of the news. There is a ton of editorializing on the topic.

        The level of coverage here seems way higher than on motorsport.com.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          31st December 2020, 13:24


          Yeah I agree. This site has never been about merely reporting the news though which for me, makes it much more interesting than the other F1 sites. If people don’t want that sort of content and simply want to read the news, there are other sites that do that or alternatively, the news roundup articles on here will link you straight to them.

        2. And their level of NASCAR is far higher than RaceFans’ – so why not complain to them about NASCAR overload? I get it though – they’re USA based, so I don’t hold it against them for the inclusion.

          By the same token RaceFans is primarily F1 orientated, so reports on the full spectrum of F1 activities. Did you complain about reportage here about Mazepin’s proclivities? If not, why not? Or shall I simply assume?

          1. @dieterrencken

            I actually never complained about it. I was just rebutting petebaldwin’s claim that the level of reporting is in line with other motorsports news sites.

            Did you complain about reportage here about Mazepin’s proclivities? If not, why not? Or shall I simply assume?

            I didn’t complain, but my opinion is that most of these stories don’t deserve more than one article. IMO, the best articles on this site are those focused on the GPs, the extensive interviews and the deep investigations (mostly by you).

          2. @dieterrencken Yeah, F1 activities. Care to explain though, what “Mazepin’s proclivities” have to do with F1 itself? And don’t point me the related acrticles here. Yes, F1 drivers are public/famous personas nowadays, but their personal life has nothing to do with F1.

            I don’t see how Bertrand Gachot’s assault in London, back 1991, affected F1. Or even within F1, I don’t see how the actions of womanizer David Coulthard, that was telling to grid and fan girls “Lift your t-shirt and show me your ti*ts” affected F1. Or Piquet’s attack to Salazar.

            If they commit a misdemeanor or even a felony on their personal life, it’s up to the courts of law to judge, just as like for ALL individuals, not up to you with your tabloid journalism. And Mr. Journalist-Policeman, you need to have recurrence of the same event in order to use the word “proclivity”.

            But you don’t have such thing, right?

  10. RationalEconomicMan
    31st December 2020, 11:06

    There are some extremely basic understandings of tax in this article which are misleading.
    The top marginal rate of tax on non-savings income is 45%, which means that not all of Hamilton’s income would be taxed at 45%.
    If you choose to include tax issues, please get them correct, I don’t think they even needed to be included in this article. There is a neoliberal viewpoint in this article that people should simply move to where tax is cheapest; this is elitist as the vast majority of people cannot do this.

    And the comparison about tax and earnings timeline is silly in my opinion – Hamilton will continue to earn substantial money long after he has retired from F1. Even business leaders like you mention will stop earning once they retire.

    The racing arguments in this article are good, but the economic and tax arguments are poor.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      31st December 2020, 13:21

      The arguments that Hamilton should live in the UK so he can pay taxes are borderline ridiculous. When a principality offers athletes the chance to live there and not pay taxes during the years when they earn the most income, most drivers should be taking advantage of that.

      I’m pretty the entire Premier League would live in Monaco if they could practice and play while living there.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an athlete trying to minimize taxation. The wealthiest people naturally minimize taxation through all kinds of loopholes.

      1. RationalEconomicMan
        31st December 2020, 13:47

        I’m not arguing that he needs to live and be taxed in the UK, he can live wherever he wants.
        But there is something wrong with the rich using tax loopholes to avoid tax, it is the primary reason why people are angry at governments and the elites at the moment. Hamilton would surely have a more than comfortable living even paying tax – so avoiding tax should be called out for what it is, which is greed. It is hypocritical for someone to bemoan underprivilege whilst paying the minimum amount of tax. This goes for some corporations too which practice extreme tax avoidance, like Apple with their profit shifting.
        This article argues that it is right and proper for someone to avoid paying tax, justifying it on some strange conception of risk. It is not right and proper, and this article makes a poor argument.
        It is beside the point on Hamilton’s knighthood, but this article has strayed into talking about tax, which it lacks the knowledge to back up its arguments in this area.

        1. Surely the issue is the existence of tax havens like Monaco in the first place. And the UK is no exception. Or rather it’s exceptional in being a major country with a large population, not an island or tiny principality, that exploits this possibility at its core. The entire City of London economy is based on the concept of tax evasion (hence Brexit to avoid incoming EU legislative control of the opening represented by the UK financial services economy):

          Among the millions of column inches generated […] on this issue, three words you will not find in sequential order are “City of London”. Extraordinary, when one considers the critical advantage our tax haven network offers the preponderance of offshore lawyers and accountants that cluster the Square Mile, siphoning off the rewards of capital flight. And that network that is growing, not receding.

          Hamilton as ‘tax exile’ is a complete and deliberate red herring conjured up by a cynical and manipulative UK tabloid press whose owners are about as ‘offshore’ as you can get.

          1. RationalEconomicMan
            31st December 2020, 15:44


            Agreed, you hit the nail on the head.

          2. @david-br

            Why can’t we blame both the tax haven and the person taking advantage?

            Lewis has a choice and there are plenty of rich people who make a different choice.

    2. You pay 45% tax on everything earned over 50k, which for all high earners is essentially 45% on the vast majority of pay. Hope I’ve got my maths right here but that works out that only 0.002% of his Mercedes wages alone would be paid at the lower rate of tax. That’s not even worth considering. so to all intents and purposes the govt would be taking circa 99.998% of his wages at 45%. In what world is that considered fair? And…if Its such an issue the law should be changed. As it is… good on Lewis! No laws or rules broken. If you say you wouldn’t swap UK for Monaco if you could then you’re either a liar or a fool.

      1. Yeh… my maths was off. Its 99.87% of his wage paid at 45%. Still obscene!

        1. DeanR, no it’s over £150,000. It’s 40% between £50,000 and £150,000.

          Amazing how people act so arrogantly when they know nothing about tax.

    3. Even business leaders like you mention will stop earning once they retire.

      Show me one CEO that doesn’t retire without a Golden Parachute (stock options, board of directors seat, etc.). I’ll wait.

  11. This isn’t really about Hamilton or the sport; it’s “For God and the Empire”. This being an empire which enslaved or otherwise oppressed millions for centuries.

    What meaning can this have today but to serve as a legitimization of the British royal house, whose existance – to this day- relies on the exploitation of the British people?

    1. @maichael As a republican, I agree. But that oppression has worked by making black people invisible too. Lewis Hamilton’s recognition undoes some of that. (Sir) Steve McQueen, black British film director and artist, accepted a knighthood this year too (2020 New Year’s list). As he said: “My younger self wouldn’t give a damn about my knighthood. ‘What is he doing with it?’ That is what he would ask. ‘The country I come from gave me this high award – and that’s great.
      But it doesn’t mean anything unless you can actually use it.” On balance, it’s positive I think. It’s been an incredibly important year for black affirmation. But as McQueen says, it depends how Hamilton uses it.

  12. I’ve no issues with 45% tax on (very) high earnings. I do have issue with right-wing UK papers using this as just about their only line of attack on Hamilton (the Daily Mail lead with ‘Arise Sir Tax Exile’) when leading exponents of Brexit, who the tabloids worship, do precisely the same with their companies. The hypocrisy is simply mind-blowing. And it shows that their animosity with Hamilton had nothing to do with tax and everything to do with background (race and class). The biggest global tax issue is offshore hedge funds and mega corporations (the big tech companies) avoiding tax. See if these papers take up that issue…

    Hamilton is free to live wherever he wants. John Lennon preferred New York as have done countless British celebrities over the decades, many of them knighted. Many of them did so to avoid high tax too. Monaco is a natural base for Formula 1. If he returns to the UK, or lives most of his time there, he should pay full tax. Not much else to it.

    The rest of Dieter’s article is 100% correct. Plenty of athletes in other sports have won knighthoods at the peak of their career (tennis players, rowers…) And Hamilton’s achievements simply dwarf theirs, and in a highly dangerous sport. A recognition way over due. If he accepts or not is up to him. I can see the logic in both decisions.

    1. Also if Hamilton lived in the uk, he would have to put up with Lazy Tabloids Paparazzi hounding him as a matter of routine for the next sensationalised headline.

      Poor news day, ‘lets pick on Hamilton’. Government scandle needing a distraction, ‘lets pick on hamilton’.

      He would never be able to concentrate on his career. The press abroad are a lot more reasonable when it comes the private lives of their celebres.

    2. Great post.

  13. PS. I do disagree with this in the article:

    The flipside is that Britain’s infrastructure made it possible for Hamilton to realise his dreams. The grandson of Grenadian immigrants, he is unlikely to have scaled the heights of F1 had the family not settled in the UK – Hamilton’s mother Carmen is English – while his junior career was largely funded by McLaren in partnership with Mercedes-Benz UK and other commercial interests. It is only fitting that he pays some dues in the UK.

    Hamilton’s origins on his father’s side are an irrelevant point. But if you’re going to suggest some ‘generational debt’ to his father’s family moving to the UK from Grenada, you need to acknowledge that this was after the 1948 British Nationality Act allowed British citizenship to citizens British colonies and the UK government encouraged immigration from Caribbean countries to fill labour shortages (the Windrush generation). And why were Afro-Caribbeans there on these islands anyhow? The ‘generational debt’ actually works the other way – to the Africans forcibly taken from their homelands under slavery and imperial colonialism.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      31st December 2020, 15:36

      “Africans forcibly taken from their homelands under slavery” by whom? Who sold them to European slave buyers?
      Which European nation was the first to ban intercontinental slave trade?

      1. Sorry, I can’t make sense of what point you’re trying to make. I can guess, maybe, but I have an aversion to filling in the gaps for people to lazy to make a coherent argument that they have to defend. It provides an escape route for them to pretend they were saying something else.

        I was challenging the idea that Hamilton owes more to the UK than anyone else born there. His background should be irrelevant. If, as the article, you going to focus on the immigrant status of part of his family ancestry – which is, I think, a somewhat reckless path to take – then that can be further extended back to the history of the Caribbean.

        1. I wouldn’t say its irrelavant, its a point of fact. Some people out there may well consider a knighthood in this situation to be another point of contention. The author was alluding to the arguments ‘for and against’. This is one of those points, even if its not as high profiled.

          In context the point was made without dewelling on the historical reasons for migration to the uk.
          If one wanted to go into all the details, then there are also those who served in the common wealth’s contribution to the last great war, something belatedly acknowledged in relatively recent times.

          Least we forget, Hamilton’s knighthood also serves that notion of the common wealth nations.

    2. @david-br

      Neither Hamilton or his father were forcible taken from Africa and enslaved. An injustice was done to the ancestors that were enslaved, but both Hamilton and his father actually had more opportunity than if their forefathers hadn’t been enslaved.

      The entire idea of generational debt is absurd and very harmful. People get called victims or perpetrators of a crime that happened before they were born. It’s a toxic form of thinking that causes eternal vendetta’s. And where do you stop? Do modern Italians have generational debt to the people of northern France for Caesar’s crimes in that region?

      1. @aapje As I’ve pointed out twice now, the argument of a ‘generational debt’ came from the article and I was contesting it. Why should the fact Hamilton’s family on his father’s side were immigrants make him more indebted than anyone else born in the UK? That’s what the article implies. As for the rest, I’ve already answered you elsewhere.

      2. Ah yes, the eternal justification argument for slavery from the right wing/neo-nazi perspective: In summary. we ( the whites) actually did the Africans a favor by removing them from their homes in chains because their progeny ( the children of the enslaved) are doing so much better than those left behind in Africa. That is the gist of your neo-fascist right wing crapola argument , right?

        Wow, dude. Stop posting racist tripe. It is very disturbing.

      3. @Anthony

        It can both be true that slavery was a crime against those it was committed against and that the descendants of slaves are better off than they would be otherwise.

        You seem to have a terminal case of black/white thinking, where something is either good or bad in all ways. That is a very dangerous affliction.

  14. Pretty much one of the worst bunch of
    comments-responses I’ve read yet. It’s sickening to read what all the experts think. All of their knowledge and wisdom each knowing more than about the comments just made.
    This award means so much to the English as it should but to the rest of us it’s just another long used custom by the English. I’m so sick of all of the bitter I’m smarter than you comments made by self proclaimed experts. I’ve had enough and my comments mean as much as the last experts did or do or whatever. Looking forward to this greatness of Hamilton OBE
    In the upcoming years

    1. So what vanquished nation are you from?

      1. I am a proud Pacific Northwest Native
        how dare you make such a comment
        How about just F1 from now on.

  15. Sir Lewis Hamilton, knight of racing.

    Now we wait for von Schumacher.

  16. Very Cool, for him and the sport.

  17. These comment sections are like wild fires. We get nothing out of all this, but the fire, it is mesmerizing.

  18. Arise Lewis “Tax Dodger” Hamilton. It’s nice when you have friends in high places, like Boris. He’ll never be a Sir.

  19. Still baffled by this ole English practice. But compared to some others Lewis certainly deserves it.

  20. Celebrity tax evader? He needs to ring up Bono and get some tips on how to do it proper.

  21. i wonder how it feels taking a knee to a Extremely Privileged Old White Lady…LOL

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