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Lewis Hamilton plays down talk of knighthood after sixth world title

Lewis Hamilton plays down talk of knighthood after sixth world title
© Reuters
There have been calls for the six-time world champion to be knighted.

Lewis Hamilton does not expect his sixth Formula One world championship to be acknowledged with a knighthood.

Hamilton will start his title parade from third on the grid in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen lines up on pole position after edging out Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 0.123 seconds in Interlagos.

Hamilton wrapped up his fifth championship in six remarkable seasons at the US Grand Prix a fortnight ago, moving to within just one triumph of Michael Schumacher's record tally of seven.

Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Hain has written to Downing Street calling for Hamilton to be rewarded with an upgrade on the MBE he received after he won his maiden championship in 2008.

Hamilton's British sporting contemporaries Andy Murray, the three-time Grand Slam champion, and Mo Farah, who won double Olympic gold at the 2012 and 2016 Games, have both been knighted in recent times.

But speaking ahead of the penultimate round of the campaign, Hamilton, 34, said: "I don't think it is going to happen.

"But that doesn't bother me. It doesn't mean I am not British and I will continue to try and raise the flag as well as I can.

"Just the fact that people have mentioned it, is an honour, but I have not spent my life chasing it. It is just not something you grow up thinking of.

"But if it did happen I don't know how I would handle it. I have stood in front of Her Majesty the Queen before and it was incredible. She really is awesome."

Hamilton will be in contention to win his 11th race of the season at a venue where he dramatically claimed his first title 11 years' ago.

The British driver, however, will have to find a way past both Verstappen and Vettel following a tense qualifying session.

Verstappen has performed well at Interlagos, delivering a wet-weather masterclass in 2016 to come from the back to finish third, and was on course to win here last year only to be taken out of the lead by backmarker Esteban Ocon. Verstappen infamously confronted Ocon immediately after the race, shoving the Frenchman in the chest three times.

On Sunday, he will be in prime position to avenge last year's failure – after claiming just the second pole of his career – and the chance to usurp Ferrari's Charles Leclerc for third place in the standings.

Leclerc, who is 14 points above Verstappen, finished fourth, but is due to start a lowly 14th following a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change.

Verstappen's pole lap was the perfect birthday present for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who turned 46 on Saturday.

Lando Norris finished 11th, while Carlos Sainz failed to post a lap after he was sidelined with an engine failure in the sister McLaren.

George Russell out-qualified Williams team-mate Robert Kubica for the 20th consecutive time. Russell finished 19th, half a second quicker than Kubica, who will call time on his unsuccessful comeback at the concluding round of the season in Abu Dhabi in two weeks' time.

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