Lewis Hamilton became only the fourth driver in Formula 1 history to receive a knighthood in the 2021 New Year Honours List. We look at the other drivers who have been knighted, and other motorsport personalities who have been honoured by the Queen.
Sir Jack Brabham, 1978
Three-time World Champion Sir Jack Brabham was the first Formula 1 driver to be knighted, in 1979. The Australian won the title in 1959, 1960 and 1966 and founded the Brabham team in 1960. He remains the only driver to have won the title in a car bearing his own name. Brabham was made a Sir in the 1979 New Years Honours List, for distinguished service to the sport of motor racing. In addition to his knighthood, Brabham was also made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2008.
Sir Stirling Moss, 2000
Sir Stirling Moss never won the Formula 1 World Championship, but was an iconic figure in British motorsport. Moss finished as runner-up for four consecutive seasons between 1955 and 1958, before finishing third in all of the last three seasons of his F1 career. Moss was knighted after being included in the New Years Honours List in 2000, for his services to motor racing. Due to the Queen being absent on an official visit to Australia, it was Prince Charles who knighted Moss.
Sir Jackie Stewart, 2001
Sir Jackie Stewart is the last driver to have been knighted, receiving his knighthood in 2001. The three-time World Champion received an OBE for services to motor racing in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1971, the year in which he won his second title. Stewart received his knighthood thirty years later, being named in the Queen’s 2001 Birthday Honours List. Like Moss, Stewart was knighted by Prince Charles.
Sir Lewis Hamilton, 2020
Sir Lewis Hamilton was awarded a knighthood in the 2021 New Years Honours List. It followed his record-equalling seventh World Championship victory. Hamilton had previously been appointed an MBE in 2009, following his first title win.
Other F1 personalities who have been knighted
Aside from the four drivers listed above, there are only two other F1 figures who have been awarded knighthoods. Having already been made a CBE in 1986, Sir Frank Williams was knighted in the 1999 New Years Honours List. At the time, Williams said: “I am surprised and very happy that I have received such an important honour. I am truly delighted that the team’s achievements in Grand Prix racing have been recognised in this way”. Sir Patrick Head, Williams’ co-founder of his eponymous team, was knighted sixteen years later. Head was knighted for his services to motorsport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015.
Other F1 personalities who received Queen’s Honours
Below is an extensive list of figures from Formula 1 who have been awarded MBEs, OBEs, CBEs or other honours:
- 1964 World Champion John Surtees was awarded an MBE in 1959 before being awarded an OBE almost fifty years later in 2008. Just over a year prior to his death, Surtees was honoured with a CBE in the 2016 New Years Honours List.
- Jim Clark was awarded an OBE in 1965 – the year in which he won his second and final World Championship.
- 1962 World Champion Graham Hill was awarded an OBE in 1967. He’d go on to secure another F1 title in the following year.
- Lotus founder Colin Chapman was appointed a CBE in 1970.
- Divina Galica, who attempted to qualify for three World Championship Grands Prix in the 1970s, was appointed an MBE prior to her motor racing career, in 1973.Before racing, Galica competed in four Winter Olympics, and was awarded the MBE for her skiing efforts.
- In 1973, both Mike Hailwood and David Purley were awarded George Medals for bravery. Hailwood rescued Clay Regazzoni from his burning BRM car at the 1973 South African Grand Prix, while Purley tried to save Roger Williamson, who was killed in a fire at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix. Hailwood was later awarded an MBE.
- Phil Irving was awarded an MBE in the 1976 New Years Honours List for his services to automotive engineering. Irving is famed for building the Repco-Brabham engine which aided Jack Brabham to his 1966 title victory.
- After winning the Drivers’ Championship, Alan Jones was awarded an MBE in 1980.
- Five-time Grand Prix winner John Watson was awarded an MBE for services to motor racing in the Queen’s 1983 Birthday Honours List.
- Engineer Robin Herd was awarded a CBE in 1986 for his services to the motor racing industry. Herd designed some of McLaren’s earliest F1 cars and went on to be a founding member of the March Engineering team.
- Five-time Le Mans winner and F1 points scorer Derek Bell was awarded an MBE for services to motorsport in 1986.
- Eric Broadley, founder of Lola Cars was appointed an MBE in 1991 for his services to motorsport.
- Just four months before his death, in June 1992, Denny Hulme was appointed an OBE for his services to motorsport.
- Chris Amon was appointed an MBE for services to motor sport in the 1993 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
- 4-time World Champion Alain Prost received an honorary OBE in December 1994.
- There is a notable F1 figure who declined an honour from the Queen. Bernie Ecclestone was set to be awarded a CBE in 1996, but declined the offer. In a 2019 interview on F1’s official Beyond The Grid podcast, Ecclestone revealed: “I don’t particularly agree with these things. I think 20-odd years ago, I was given the opportunity, and decided not to”.
- Murray Walker received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996 for services to broadcasting and motorsport. His predecessor Raymond Baxter, who provided commentary for the BBC on numerous Grands Prix and had an uncredited role in the 1966 film Grand Prix, was also awarded an OBE in 2003.
- Just after winning the Drivers’ Championship in 1996, Damon Hill was awarded an OBE in the 1997 New Years Honours List.
- Kenneth McAlpine, who in 2020 became only the second F1 driver to reach the age of 100, was awarded an OBE in the 1997 New Years Honours List. After his F1 career, McAlpine established a successful English wine growing and bottling business and was awarded the OBE for services to the English Vineyard Association and to English wine.
- Then-McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis was made a CBE in 2000.
- Co-founder of Cooper Car Company John Cooper was awarded a CBE in 2000 for his services to British motorsport.
- Professor Sid Watkins was given an OBE in 2002 for his services to motorsport.
- David Richards was appointed a CBE for his services to motorsport in the 2005 New Years Honours List. Richards is the chairman of Prodrive and was former team principal at BAR and Benetton.
- After winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2009, Jenson Button was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Years Honours List. Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn was also appointed an OBE in the same List.
- David Coulthard was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010.
- Adrian Newey was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Years Honours List for his services to motorsport.Having already been awarded an OBE, Nigel Mansell was appointed a CBE in the New Years Honours List in 2012 for services to children and young people. He has been president of charity UK Youth since 1999.
- In 2012, Eddie Jordan was made an honorary OBE for his services to charity and motorsport.
- Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2013.
- Formula 1 podium finisher Tim Schenken was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016.
- Former Deputy Team Principal of Williams, Claire Williams was appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016 for services to Formula 1 Racing.
- Susie Wolff was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Years Honours List for services to Women In Sport. Wolff made appearances with Williams in Free Practice 1 at the 2013 Spanish and British Grands Prix.
- Car designer Gordon Murray – who worked at Brabham and McLaren during his Formula 1 career – was appointed a CBE in the 2019 New Years Honours List.
- Caroline Hargrove, who was previously CTO at McLaren Applied Technologies, was awarded a CBE for services to engineering in the 2020 New Years Honours List. Hargrove oversaw work on McLaren’s F1 simulator and transposed technology used in motor racing to medical services.
Is there anyone we’ve missed? If you’ve spotted any notable Formula 1 figures who have been omitted from our list, leave a comment below!
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.