'Massive honour' says Lewis
MBE caps remarkable rise for F1's youngest ever World Champion
Last Updated: 31/12/08 12:39am
Hamilton: Incredible privilege
Lewis Hamilton has spoken of the "massive honour" of being awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List.
The award caps a remarkable 12 months for the McLaren Mercedes driver, who claimed the Formula One World Championship in dramatic circumstances in Brazil.
"It is a massive honour and incredible privilege for me to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen," Hamilton said. "It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me.
"I am also very humbled to be included on the Honours list alongside all the members of the general public who have been recognised for their tireless work in such varied and worthwhile arenas.
"It has been an outstanding year for British sport as a whole, and it is great to see so many fellow sportsmen and women being honoured today."
His title triumph ensured Hamilton a place in the record books as the sport's youngest ever World Champion.
Such a mantle reflects the rise of the Stevenage-born racer, who at the age of 10 walked up to McLaren team principal Ron Dennis at an awards dinner and announced that he wanted to drive for his team.
Already a junior karting champion by that stage, Hamilton's fledgling career received a vital boost when he joined the McLaren and Mercedes-Benz young driver support programme in 1998.
Graduating to cars, he claimed the British Formula Renault title in 2003 and the Formula Three Euroseries title two years later.
On the fast track
Such were Hamilton's performances in winning F1's feeder series, GP2, at his first attempt in 2006 that Dennis decided to fast-track him to a plum McLaren race seat.
His decision was immediately vindicated, with Hamilton's record in his rookie F1 season of 2007 - four victories and eight other podium finishes - taking him to within a point of the title.
He would have to wait only a single season to savour that moment of triumph, however, with success coming after the most dramatic of climaxes at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit on November 2.
Needing a fifth-place finish to take the title, Hamilton dropped to sixth after rain fell in the closing stages of the race.
However, with title rival Felipe Massa briefly thinking he had become World Champion after taking the chequered flag to win the race, Hamilton passed Toyota's Timo Glock for fifth at the very last corner.
The Queen herself took the time to personally write a note of congratulations to Hamilton.