The knighthood – which means he will be known formally as Sir Lewis Hamilton – has been awarded at the end of a year that saw him match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 World Championship titles and surpass the German's race wins tally.
He has also pursued a campaign to increase diversity in the sport and frequently spoken out against racism in society, although the honour is for his services to motorsports. It comes exactly 12 years after Hamilton, following his first World Championship title, became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to motor racing.
Hamilton is the third F1 World Champion to receive a knighthood, following Jack Brabham (in 1978) and Jackie Stewart (2001), while the honour also went to Stirling Moss (2000). However, Hamilton is the first to gain this status while still an active driver.
In addition, racers and land speed record breakers Henry Segrave (1929) and Malcolm Campbell (1931) were both knighted before World War II.
Aside from drivers, Williams F1 team founders Frank Williams and Patrick Head have also received knighthoods, in 1999 and 2015 respectively.
Hamilton has been awarded a knighthood at the age of just 35, although he is not the youngest sportsman to be recognised in the modern era. Tennis star Andy Murray was 29 when he was named in the 2017 New Year Honours list, following his second Wimbledon victory, while cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy were both 32. Sailor Ellen MacArthur was 28 when she was made a dame, the equivalent of a knighthood, in 2005.
New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who officially starts work in January, has paid tribute to Hamilton.
“Lewis is a true giant of our sport and his influence is huge both in and out of a car,” said Domenicali. “What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come.
“All of us at F1 congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021.”
Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 team principal Toto Wolff commented: "Lewis is one of the very greatest racing drivers of all time and the most successful British sportsperson of his era. Around the world, he has long been recognised for his sporting achievement; this year, he combined his excellence on the track with a powerful voice to fight discrimination. In every sense, he led the way in 2020.
"The news that he is to receive a knighthood shows that he is now receiving the recognition he has earned during a career of unparalleled success in motorsport. The UK can be very proud to have a champion and ambassador of the calibre of Sir Lewis Hamilton."
2008 FIA Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and winning constructor Ferrari Team director Stefano Domenicali
Photo by: FIA
Earlier this month Hamilton received recognition from the British public when he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time, having previously won the prestigious award in 2014.
He also won the 2020 Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year prize, sharing it with footballer Lionel Messi.