Hamilton knighted after heartbreak of losing F1 title

By Sports Desk December 15, 2021

Lewis Hamilton has been knighted three days after he was dethroned as Formula One world champion in the most dramatic fashion.

Hamilton was well on course to win a record eighth F1 title at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday but was overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap.

With fresh tyres fitted, Red Bull driver Verstappen went on to snatch his maiden F1 crown, capitalising on race director Michael Masi controversially ruling that lapped cars could overtake the safety car before it headed in to leave one last lap of racing between the contenders.

Hamilton claimed on the team radio that the incredible finale had been "manipulated" and Mercedes lodged two complaints with the stewards, both of which were rejected – prompting the Silver Arrows to lodge a notice of their intention to appeal.

After the heartbreak of seeing his four-year reign as champion come to an end, the Brit was given a new title when he was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old F1 legend became Sir Lewis Hamilton, having been named in the New Year Honours list at the end of 2020 after matching Michael Schumacher's record tally of seven world titles.

Hamilton's mother, Carmen Lockhart, watched her son join Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham as the only F1 drivers to be knighted.

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    The race at Silverstone was red flagged early on after Russell was clipped by Pierre Gasly on the first corner and subsequently caught Zhou.

    Zhou's Alfa Romeo flipped over, rolled numerous times and only stopped when hitting the safety barrier in front of the spectators.

    The 23-year-old was stuck upside down in the car due to being wedged below the fence, with safety crews struggling to reach him as the race was delayed by an hour.

    While Zhou later provided an update to confirm he was "okay", Russell hopes governing body the FIA will thoroughly investigate the incident so a repeat can be avoided.

    "Firstly, I'm glad to see Zhou's okay," Russell said. "It was an incredibly scary incident, not just for him but for everyone in the crowd as well. It's never nice to see.

    "It was horrible. In that position he was stuck there, with nothing he could have done. We need to have a think to avoid a car being stuck in such a fine gap.

    "The space between the barriers and the metal fence and he was just stuck in there, nowhere to go. Yeah, something to learn…"

    Zhou, who is debuting this season in F1, was taken to a nearby hospital for checks and released later on Sunday.

    He put his lucky escape down to the halo head-protection device that has been used since 2018.

    "It was a big crash and I'm glad I'm okay," he said. "The marshals and the medical team at the track were fantastic with their quick response.

    "I also owe my thanks to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done, and they keep doing, to improve the safety of our cars.

    "The halo saved me, and it goes to show that every step we take in improving our cars has real, valuable results."

    Williams driver Alex Albon also required medical attention following a separate incident in the early throes of an action-packed race that was won by Carlos Sainz.

    Albon was catapulted into the pit wall after being rammed by Sebastian Vettel, though like Zhou he escaped without any physical injuries.

    "I'm very glad that everyone else involved in the first-lap incident is okay," he said. "Thank you to the medical staff at the track and Coventry hospital.

    "It's a shame the race ended before it began today but we are already fully focused on Austria [this coming weekend]. Bring on the next one."

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    At the race's conclusion, Binotto briefly addressed a visibly disappointed Leclerc in parc ferme, whose pace dropped off on degrading hard tyres following a safety car with 14 laps remaining.

    Leading the race at that point, Leclerc noted over the radio that it would be "hard" to keep the chasing pack on soft tyres behind him, but Ferrari opted to keep him out while bringing Sainz in for a set of soft tyres.

    Asked about the exchange, Binotto sought to clarify the exchange was more to congratulate Leclerc on his drive and overall pace given the circumstances.

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    "I think that's the strength of Carlos, no?" he said. "Always trying to be there and get the opportunity. Yesterday, in qualifying maybe the other two made small mistakes but he did a consistent lap and made the pole.

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    Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

    The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

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    "I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

     

    "As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

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