By Marcelo Teixeira
SAOPAULO (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton says he is not expecting his sixth Formula One world championship to be recognised with a knighthood at the end of the year.
The Mercedes driver’s supporters are pushing for him to join other British sporting sirs like Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, runner Mo Farah, tennis player Andy Murray and cricketer Alastair Cook.
Hamilton, by far his country’s most successful racing driver with twice as many titles as the knighted great Jackie Stewart, doubted that would happen.
“I don’t really like to think too much about it,” he told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix. “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,” he added.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said frequently that he feels Hamilton’s achievements are not recognised enough in his home country and may not be appreciated fully until he has left the stage.
When Hamilton won his fifth title last year he was runner-up in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year to Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.
Britain, which has produced more champions than any nation in Formula One history, has certainly never known anyone like him and only German great Michael Schumacher, with seven, has won more championships.
Hamilton has won 10 races a year on average for the last six seasons, a success rate that would leave him on course to overhaul Schumacher’s record of 91 victories some time next year.
Even if he played it down, the prospect of him getting a knighthood tickled the fancy of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“Do you get a sword? That would be cool if you get to keep the sword,” said Vettel, a four times world champion.
Informed that he would have to call Hamilton ‘Sir Lewis’ if the Briton were to be knighted, 22-year-old Verstappen sounded doubtful.
“You don’t have to, do you?” asked the Dutchman, who starts Sunday’s penultimate race of the season on pole position.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)