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Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Hamilton MBE a 'massive honour'

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton became the youngest ever F1 drivers' champion at 23

Lewis Hamilton said he felt "humbled" after becoming an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours.

The Stevenage-born driver, 23, became the youngest winner of the Formula One championship after a dramatic finish to the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

"It is a massive honour and incredible privilege to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen," said Hamilton.

"It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me and something I am very appreciative of."

Having come close to claiming the F1 drivers' championship in his debut season, Hamilton secured the 2008 title with a fifth-place finish at Interlagos.

The Englishman's title rival and local hero Felipe Massa won the race in his Ferrari but Hamilton passed Timo Glock at the final corner to push the Brazilian into second place in the drivers' championship.

"The support I have received from the UK as a whole has been fantastic and a huge motivation," added Hamilton, who turns 24 next month and now lives in Switzerland.

Report - Lewis Hamilton, making of a champion

"This is not just a proud moment for me, but also for my family and every single person involved with the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team.

"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."

Aged 13, Hamilton was signed up by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their young driver support programme and went on to claim the British Formula Renault, European Formula Three and GP2 titles.

In 2007, Hamilton became the first black driver in F1 and came within a point of securing the drivers' championship.

Hamilton added: "I am very fortunate to have been awarded for achieving my dream.

"It has required a lot of hard work and dedication, however it has been worth every single minute and I only hope that I can inspire young kids to do the same, whatever their dream may be."

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see also
Hoy knighted in New Year honours
31 Dec 08 |  Sport Homepage
New Year Honours photos
31 Dec 08 |  Sport Homepage
Sports Personality images of 2008
22 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Hamilton gets hands on F1 trophy
12 Dec 08 |  Formula One
Schumacher praises Hamilton feat
04 Nov 08 |  Formula One
How will Hamilton's life change?
03 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton targets title hat-trick
03 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Last-gasp Hamilton takes F1 crown
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton's rise to the top
18 Jun 07 |  Motorsport

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