Hamilton vows to continue fight for change as knighthood is confirmed

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Lewis Hamilton has vowed to continue his fight for equality as he is to be awarded a knighthood in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

Calls have been getting louder in recent years for the Briton to have his MBE status upgraded, however, questions over his tax status have been a consistent barrier despite evidence Hamilton is among the top 5,000 taxpayers in the UK.

After becoming Formula 1's statistical greatest of all time by matching Michael Schumacher as a seven-time world champion in November however, it is understood Prime Minister Boris Johnson has bypassed the tax question by placing Hamilton on the 'Diplomats and Overseas List' which "recognises people who have given exceptional service to the UK abroad and internationally".

The Daily Mail claims Hamilton is the first sportsman to be made eligible for an honour through this loophole and will see the 35-year-old join Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham as the fourth F1 champion to become a Sir.

Previously, Hamilton has downplayed the possibility of receiving the honour, though also said he wouldn't refuse it as those put forward are allowed to do.

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Away from F1, the Mercedes driver has also been praised for his activism on environmental and racial equality issues, and he admits the fight, particularly for the latter, has become a new source of motivation this year.

“Those previous years have been self-driven, family-driven, ‘our journey’-driven, ‘our struggle’-driven, and then this year has been a struggle for others," he told The Race.

“That’s really helped propel me to a level I didn’t know I’d get to. That new source of power, fighting for something that is far greater than me and us, has really given this year a meaning that I couldn’t ever have imagined.

“I still try to grasp it all because it’s really huge for me personally and the reception I received this year was just really, really overwhelming. When I speak about overwhelming experiences, this has been the most overwhelming year in so many ways.”

The experience though of bringing his on-track and off-track worlds together through F1's 'We Race As One' and other initiatives has made this a year of personal improvement for Hamilton.

“This has probably been one of the biggest years of growth for me because I have had more time,” he says.

“In the past, you’ve gone from one thing to the next, you are always trying to keep up but you are always behind – on emails, on conversations, documentaries, whatever it may be. So the learning process is just a lot different.

“This year I have had time to really spend time on learning, on trying to educate myself the best I can. Who would have thought that at 35 years old that I would learn a lot more than perhaps I have in the past 10 years?

“We’ve gone to places and travelled around the world, and I definitely recognise that as a youngster I was less conscious of what’s happening in the world. I wasn’t watching the news as much, I wasn’t up-to-date with things that are happening.

“It’s been such a difficult year for so many people, and there’s so many negatives that have happened to people – losing jobs, businesses shutting down and people becoming homeless, and there’s so much struggle that’s happened," Hamilton added.

"But then I like to try to look at things always as glass half-full, and there have been so many positives that I hope we will be able to take into 2021 and part of that has been this learning process.

“I’ve felt that taking that step and really using my voice…There are so many people out there that have just stayed silent. I’m sure there’s moments in you guys’ lives that maybe you’ve kept your mouth shut just for a moment because you know that there’s a bigger fight to fight further along, or something was at risk.

“And I think there’s people out there, particularly kids, who will see so many who have been outspoken on certain issues this year, that this is a time to be more outspoken, this is a time to push for change.”

Currently, Hamilton's future in F1 is a little uncertain as he's yet to formally re-sign at Mercedes for 2021, although it is seen as a matter of 'when' not 'if' he does.

And that was highlighted as he laid out his goals for the final chapters of his F1 career.

“There was a moment when I thought that 'when I leave, I want to leave on top' and that will be it,” he revealed.

“But what I’ve realised, particularly this year, is I have a responsibility to the F1 community for what it has helped me create, to push for that change.

“If I don’t push forwards and make sure that this Hamilton Commission actually delivers, this sport is not going to be more diverse in the next five to 10 years. So I have got to stay on top of it, I’ve got to be engaged, I‘ve got to continue to keep people on their toes.

“While perhaps some people would perhaps prefer that I didn’t speak out in public and push for certain things, I think that’s my responsibility and getting this sport to be more diverse in the future, I 100% believe I could be a part of that change.

“Keeping these conversations going is holding people accountable and I am not afraid of doing that, as you’ve seen. But if I don’t do it, who is? Of course, it’s not solely my responsibility. It’s working with people and that’s why I am super grateful to see a lot of these drivers taking the knee next to me and standing alongside me.”