Lewis Hamilton will be knighted after Boris Johnson bypassed concerns over the world champion’s tax status by placing him on the ‘Diplomatic and Overseas List’.
It is understood that no previous British sporting figure has been accommodated in this controversial way — a measure of the Prime Minister’s desire to see Hamilton recognised in the New Year Honours on Thursday after the Mercedes star won his seventh Formula One title in November.
The 35-year-old was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire and grew up on a council estate before becoming grand prix racing’s first black driver. He has spent this year campaigning for greater diversity in his sport.
Hamilton, who is worth more than £250million, has lived in tax exile in Monaco for a decade, having first moved from the UK to Switzerland after completing his debut season in 2007.
Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Hain, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Formula One, has twice written to Downing Street with evidence that Hamilton is among the top 5,000 UK taxpayers.
But the sport honours committee did not believe this clinched the argument because Hamilton’s Monaco residency meant HMRC could not adequately vet his tax affairs — a prerequisite for all domestic awards.
The Prime Minister has since sidestepped this concern by using the ‘Overseas’ designation that ‘recognises people who have given exceptional service to the UK abroad and internationally’.
Hamilton, who was awarded the MBE in 2008 after his first world title, will become the fourth F1 driver to be knighted, following Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton won BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time last weekend.
A source close to the Government told Sportsmail: ‘Boris made it clear he wanted Lewis knighted so everyone was backed into a corner.