To the Formula One fan who follows a particular driver, the driver’s achievements assume special importance. Similar to soccer fans, a Formula One fan will defend the chosen driver against all comers making sure that everyone knows the rare talents that the driver possesses. The reality is not far from the perception as Formula 1 drivers are incredibly skilled people.
Including the knighting of Lewis Hamilton in 2021, four British Formula One drivers have been knighted. These include Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss, and Sir Jack Brabham. Each of these men has left a massive imprint on F1 and has a legendary status.
The knighting Lewis Hamilton was conducted at the end of a tumultuous season in which the competition between Lewis and Max Verstappen was, to put it mildly, intense. The finale of the season was a crushing blow for Lewis. However, he showed the character traits that made him worthy of receiving a knighthood. He was gracious to his competitors and humble in every interaction.
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Four British Formula 1 Drivers Have Been Knighted
Since 1979 when Jack Brabham was the first Formula 1 driver to be knighted, four Formula 1 drivers have received a knighthood. The Formula I drivers who have received a knighthood are:
Sir Jack Brabham received his knighthood in 1979
Although a former colony Australia is not part of Britain. Australia is a constitutional monarchy that recognizes the British Monarch as the head of the Australian Monarchy.
Because of this relationship, Jack Brabham was able to be knighted. Jack Brabham achieved several Formula One firsts.
- He was the first driver from Australia to win a Formula One Grand Prix. He accomplished this in Monaco in 1959.
- In 1959 he became the first Australian to win the Formula One Drivers world championship.
- He achieved world championship status again in 1960 and 1966.
- He had 14 wins, 13 pole positions, and 12 fastest laps among 123 Grand Prix starts in his career.
- Being the first Australian driver to achieve success made way for future generations, including Alan Jones, Mark Webber, and Daniel Ricciardo.
- With Formula I’s wholly inadequate safety regulations in the day, twenty Formula 1 drivers died between the date he first raced in 1955 and his last race in 1970. The fact that he wasn’t amongst them or that he never suffered a severe injury after 25 years of racing speaks volumes about his skill level.
- Jack Brabham was also a constructor who fielded cars in Formula 1 and Formula 2.
- His partnership with Honda showed the type of gentleman he was. In an incident when the engine failed on his Formula 1 car, he unscrewed the gear lever and walked back to the pits. When he was asked what went wrong, he spared the Japanese Honda representatives’ embarrassment by saying that the gear lever had broken off.
- He was never scared of facing down unfair authority.
- He had a great sense of humor. In 1966 he was forty years old and was regularly referred to as the old man of Formula One. At the Dutch Grand Prix start in 1966, he arrived at the track sporting a long fake “Rip Van Winkle” beard, pretending that he needed a walking stick to get around.
- He retired in 1970, aged 44. Despite this, he won the South African Grand Prix in his last year.
- A unique record of Jack Brabham is that he is the only F1 racer in the sport’s history to win a championship with a car he constructed.
- Jack Brabham won three world championships as a driver and two as a car builder.
Sir Stirling Moss Received His Knighthood In 2000
Sterling Moss jokingly describes himself as the “best racer never to have won a Formula One drivers’ title.” Probably the best known of all the historic Formula 1 racing drivers, when he retired in 1962, Sterling Moss was the highest-paid Formula 1 racing driver of the time. He was paid the massive sum of £30,000 per annum.
- He won 16 Formula One races.
- Moss competed in Formula 1, Endurance racing, Road racing, and touring car racing.
- Through all the different disciplines, he competed in 366 races.
- He won 222 races across all series.
- Outside of racing, Sterling Moss attempted various speed records, of which he claimed 5 class F records.
- He raced at the Nuremberg 1000 km events and won three times.
- In 1962, racing at Goodwood, he had a horrific crash that put him in a coma for a month. Despite suffering from partial paralysis caused by the collision, he was back in the car and racing again within a year.
Sir Jackie Stewart Was Knighted On 2001
Jackie Stewart is one of the most easily remembered names of Formula 1 drivers. He has been part of Formula One racing as a driver, constructor, presenter, and the driving force behind improvements in the sport’s safety.
- Jackie Stewart was known as the flying Scot!
- He competed in Formula 1 as a driver between 1965 and 1973.
- He competed in Indianapolis 500 in 1966 and almost won.
- He competed in the Can-Am series in 1970 and 1971.
- He won three Formula One world championships.
- Between 1997 and 1999, he ran the Stewart Grand Prix team, which he ultimately sold to Ford.
- After he retired, he served as a television commentator.
- Probably the most significant contribution to Formula 1 was his campaign to increase driver safety.
- He succeeded in getting qualified medical personnel at the track.
- He was instrumental in crash barriers being installed.
- Because of his motivation, seat belts and full-face crash helmets became mandatory.
- To this day, Jackie Stewart is still sought out for his opinion of any developments in motorsport by the press.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was knighted in 2021
Lewis Hamilton is the only Formula 1 driver to be knighted while still participating in the sport. From his early days in go-karting, Lewis has driven at a different level to his peers.
His records are immense; the following lists the main ones;
- He is the first non-white driver to win a world championship.
- So far, he is the joint record holder of the number of drivers’ world championships he has won. Alongside Michael Schumacher, he has won seven.
- He has won more Formula 1 races than any other driver (103).
- He has finished 182 races on the podium.
- He has earned more championship points than any other driver (4,165.50).
- He was the youngest driver ever to win a world championship (23).
- He has led more laps in Formula 1 than any other driver (5,396).
- The most consecutive race finishes (48).
- The highest number of races he finished in the points (249).
- The most consecutive race starts (265).
- He is passionate about causes that he believes in.
- He supports many charities which look after children.
Each of the four knighthoods was awarded to these remarkable Formula 1 drivers who have impacted the sport of Formula one in profound ways.
Not only has each displayed incredible skill in their chosen discipline, but their characters have men shone through. Each had faced heavy odds through their careers, yet each has faced them with dignity, perseverance, and courage.