It’s been a sensational season for Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The British ace, who’s been racing since he was barely past being a toddler and who now, at the ripe age of 35 owns seven F1 championships and 95 victories, ended the 2020 campaign with another podium result with the Mercedes team. F1 managed to put on 17 races in 2020, including double- and triple-headers, even leaving Europe to contest races in the Middle East, where the season’s trio of final races were held.
Hamilton, who sat out the penultimate contest due to a positive COVID-19 test, returned for the finale but, even though he finished third behind Max Verstappen of Red Bull and teammate Valtteri Bottas, admitted it was one of the most difficult races he has done, as his strength just wasn’t there, thanks to the virus.
During the season finale race weekend, formally known as the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton remarked several times about the fact that he wasn’t up to his usual and customary physical conditioning. The virus, he noted, took a lot away in such a short time. Yet, after completing the race and taking third place he acknowledged that, “Considering the past couple of weeks, I’m really happy with the weekend and to finish on the podium – obviously it’s not as good as I’d have liked.
“From my side, that was a hard race, so I’m definitely glad it’s over,” Hamilton said. “On the bright side, I made it through, and I didn’t think last week that I’d even be here. So, I’m just grateful for my health and looking forward to recovering over the winter and getting back into training, to get my body back to where it should be.”
As he works to recover from the virus, Hamilton has honors to look forward to, including from the Queen of England, who will include the racer in her annual list of awards. Yes, Lewis Hamilton will be knighted as of this coming year, joining British racing standouts Sir Jackie Stewart and the late Sir Stirling Moss with this recognition and distinction. Inclusion in the Queen’s New Year’s honors list is Hamilton’s second after being named a “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE), which occurred after the driver’s first, 2006 F1 championship.
Hamilton will also regale in the fact that the site of the British Grand Prix, Silverstone, has announced it is renaming its famous International Pits Straight in honor of the racer’s achievements. “This section of the circuit,” the track owned by the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) announced, “will become known as the Hamilton Straight and is the only part of the world-famous track ever to be named after a driver.”
The BRDC felt this unique honor was the appropriate way to recognize Hamilton’s position as the most successful driver in the 70-year history of Formula 1. The group’s president, former F1 racer David Coulthard, broke the news to Hamilton, a member of the club since 2006, during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I was delighted,” Coulthard said, “to share this news with Lewis. It is the first time in Silverstone’s history that a part of the circuit has been named after any individual. Lewis,” the owner of seven British GP victories, “has become a huge part of this history and the directors of the club ad I felt there was no better way to mark this than to rename the iconic pits straight in recognition of his record-breaking achievements.”
The Hamilton Straight has been the scene of euphoria by Silverstone’s passionate race fans, as they’ve gathered here to join him to share the post-race celebrations following six of his seven victories. For most fans, the ability to walk on this hallowed circuit after the British Grand Prix is one of the highlights of their race weekend experience.