Motor sport

Lewis Hamilton named honorary Brazilian citizen after Interlagos flag celebration

Lewis Hamilton has described himself as “speechless” after being made an honorary citizen of Brazil after winning the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last year.

The seven-time world champion wrapped himself in the Brazilian flag on the podium as the crowd chanted his name during the 2021 race. Shortly after, the honorary citizenship proposal was tabled in the country’s parliament.

That bill was passed on Thursday and Hamilton will now receive the honor at a ceremony, which has yet to be organised.

“Speechless,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram. “Today I received honorary citizenship from one of my favorite places in the world. I don’t really have the words right now. Thank you Brasil, I love you, I can’t wait to see you again.

Hamilton’s childhood hero was Ayrton Senna and he regularly spoke of being inspired by the three-time Brazilian champion, describing him as a “pure distance runner”.

“He was the driver who inspired me as a kid and he’s still a hero today. And he always will be,” said Hamilton in 2019, who said he was also drawn to the activism of Senna.

“I didn’t know so much about his personality other than the little clips you could see. So it was more what he stood for, what he stood up against and what he was able to do in a car that I loved to see.

Hamilton’s celebrations have been compared to Senna’s jubilation on the Interlagos podium in 1991

Notebook Paul-Henri/Getty Images

Hamilton was handed the Brazilian flag by a marshal as he celebrated winning last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix on the recovery lap, after a tussle at the front from tenth on the grid.

Bringing him to the podium brought comparisons to Senna’s celebrations after winning the 1991 race and fans chanted the two drivers’ names at the ceremony.

Andre Figueiredo, a Brazilian Congressman proposed the honor following the victory. In a report written before the debate on the bill, Congressman Jhonatan de Jesus said Hamilton had a “deep and strongly emotional” relationship with Brazil.

“His gestures add to his indisputable sporting merit. His public positions in favor of relevant issues such as the environment, animal rights, black people, women and human rights must also be remembered and highlighted,” he said.