Knights of the Road

F1 Figures honoured by Queen Elizabeth II

Not so much these days, but in the past Formula 1 has oft times been the playground of the wealthy and entitled.  Now the highest performers are not so wealthy, and earn titles with their performance on track.  So, as Britain celebrates a royal milestone with Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, we saw the opportunity to review the figures throughout Formula 1 history who have received royal honours from Her Majesty. 

British readers may wish to boil the kettle, and prepare to dunk their biscuits in a fresh cup of tea, for the rest of the world, take a moment to brew a cup of coffee and enjoy. 

Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire

KBE

Only six Formula 1 figures, four of whom are drivers, have received the highest royal honour: the Knight Commander (or Dame Commander) of the Order of the British Empire. The honour of knighthood comes from medieval times, as does the method used to confer the knighthood - the accolade, or the touch of a sword by the King or Queen. Men who receive this honour are given the title Sir, while women receiving the honour are called Dame. We are yet to see a Damehood bestowed as a result of achievement in motorsport but with increasing representation across the sport, we do expect this to change. The award is given for an exceptional achievement in any activity.

Sir Jack Brabham was the first Formula 1 driver to be knighted, in 1979. The Australian won the title in 1959, 1960 and 1966 and founded the Brabham team in 1960. He remains the only driver to have won the title in a car bearing his own name. Brabham was also made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2008.

Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto - 1955 British Grand Prix Winner - Sir Stirling Moss - Race Weathered at 1:8 scale

Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto - 1955 British Grand Prix Winner - Sir Stirling Moss - Race Weathered at 1:8 scale

Discover Sir Stirling Moss Models > 

Widely considered the greatest Formula 1 Driver to never win the Drivers' Championship, Sir Stirling Moss was knighted in 2000. Moss finished as runner-up for four consecutive seasons between 1955 and 1958, losing out three times to the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, before losing by a single point to Mike Hawthorn. Famously, Moss backed Hawthorn when the latter faced punishment after the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix. His sporting attitude likely cost him the Championship he deserved. 

Tyrrell 001 - Sir Jackie Stewart - 1:8 scale

Tyrrell 001 - Sir Jackie Stewart - 1:8 scale

Discover Sir Jackie Stewart Models >

Sir Jackie Stewart received his knighthood in 2001, thirty years after receiving an OBE for services to motor racing in the wake of his second Championship victory. The three-time World Champion was triumphant in 1969, 1971 and 1973 for the Matra International/Tyrrell Racing Organisation that had only entered Formula 1 in 1968.

McLaren MP4-23 - 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix - Sir Lewis Hamilton - 1:8 scale

McLaren MP4-23 - 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton - 1:8 scale

Discover Sir Lewis Hamilton Models >

Most recently, Formula 1's most successful driver Sir Lewis Hamilton was awarded a knighthood in 2021, having previously been appointed an MBE in 2009, following his first title win. Hamilton holds the records for the most wins, podium finishes, pole positions and laps led, as well as the jointly-held record of seven World Drivers' Championships with Michael Schumacher. 

Two non-drivers have also been awarded knighthoods for services to motorsport: the co-founders of Williams Racing, Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head. Williams, having already received a CBE in 1986, was knighted 1999, whilst Head was knighted sixteen years later in 2015.

Commander of the Order of the British Empire

CBE

Commander of the Order of the British Empire is a title bestowed people to recognise a positive impact they have made in their work. Several figures from inside Formula 1 have received CBEs, though only two have been drivers. John Surtees, the seven-time Grand Prix motorcycle World Champion and 1964 Drivers' World Champion, was awarded his CBE in 2016, after receiving an OBE eight years prior and an MBE back in 1959. To this day Surtees remains the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels.

Ferrari F1-90 - 1990 Mexico Grand Prix - Nigel Mansell CBE Race Weathered at 1:8 scale

Ferrari F1-90 - 1990 Mexico Grand Prix - Nigel Mansell CBE - Race Weathered at 1:8 scale

Discover Nigel Mansell CBE models >

Having already been awarded an OBE, Nigel Mansell was appointed a CBE in 2012 for services to children and young people. Mansell was the reigning F1 champion when he moved over to the CART Indy Car World Series, becoming the first person to win the CART title in his debut season, and the only person to ever hold both the F1 World Drivers' Championship and the American open-wheel National Championship simultaneously

Lotus 79 - 1978 Dutch Grand Prix Winner - Mario Andretti

Lotus 79 - 1978 Dutch Grand Prix Winner - Mario Andretti

Discover our Lotus F1 model Collection >

Lotus founder Colin Chapman did pilot a Vanwall F1 car in 1956 but crashed into his teammate Mike Hawthorn during practice for the French Grand Prix. This ended his career as a race driver before his first start and focused him on the technical side of the sport. Under Chapman's direction, Team Lotus won seven Constructors' titles, six Drivers' Championships and the Indy 500 between 1962 and 1978. He was appointed a CBE in the 1970 for services to Exports, and his innovations are still felt across motorsport today. 

McLaren MP4/4 - 1988 Japanese Grand Prix Winner - Ayrton Senna - 1:18 scale

McLaren MP4/4 - 1988 Japanese Grand Prix Winner - Ayrton Senna - 1:18 scale

Discover the McLaren MP4/4 at 1:18 scale >

Designer Gordon Murray, who worked at Brabham and McLaren during his Formula 1 career, was appointed a CBE for services to motoring in the 2019 New Years Honours List. Murray was Technical Director at McLaren during the 1988 season, where the MP4/4 cars of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost achieved a win rate of 93.8%, the most dominant year in Formula 1 history. 

Engineer and co-founder of March Engineering Robin Herd (1986), Then-McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis (2000), Co-founder of Cooper Car Company John Cooper (2000), Prodrive chairman and former BAR and Benetton Team Principal David Richards (2005) and Caroline Hargrove (2020), Chief Technical Offers at Applied Technologies, have all also received CBEs.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire

OBE

Officer of the Order of the British Empire is awarded to someone for making a great impact in their line of work. Rather surprisingly to many in the Amalgam team, Alain Prost was the recipient of an honorary OBE in 1994 for his outstanding role in the development of shared technology and in enhancing Franco-British collaboration. Prost won his four World Championships in British machinery, three with McLaren and one with Williams.

 Lotus 38 - 1965 Indy 500 Winner - Jim Clark OBE

Lotus 38 - 1965 Indy 500 Winner - Jim Clark OBE

Discover the Lotus 38 at 1:8 scale >

Jim Clark was awarded an OBE in 1965, just after winning his second and final World Championship. A versatile driver, he competed in sports car, touring car, Formula 2 and Formula 1, also winning the Indy 500 in 1965. At the time of his fatal crash at Hockenheim in 1968, Clark had won more Grand Prix races and achieved more pole positions than any other driver. 

 Lotus 49B - 1968 Monaco Grand Prix Winner - Graham Hill OBE

Lotus 49B - 1968 Monaco Grand Prix Winner - Graham Hill OBE

Discover the Lotus 49B at 1:8 scale >

Another British double World Champion, Graham Hill, received an OBE in 1967. Hill didn't actually pass his driving test until he was 24 but would go on to be one of the greatest drivers of his generation, becoming the only driver to achieve the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Also nicknamed Mr Monaco after winning the prestigious race five times in six years, Hill was F1 World Champion in 1962 and 1968.

Hill's son Damon, received his own OBE in 1997, months after winning his Drivers' Championship with Williams. The Hills were the first father and son pair to win F1 World Championships. 

 McLaren M8D - 1970 Canadian-American Challenge Cup - Denny Hulme

McLaren M8D - 1970 Canadian-American Challenge Cup - Denny Hulme

Discover the full gallery >

New Zealander Denny Hulme was appointed an OBE in 1992 for services to motorsport. The Kiwi racer would compete in Formula 1, Formula 2, Indycars, saloon/touring cars, CanAm and endurance races, all during the same season. Among his many successes, he won the F1 World Championship in 1967 and the Can-Am Drivers' Championship in 1968 and 1970. Hulme was still racing when he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 56. 

 Red Bull RB16B - 2021 Turkish Grand Prix - Max Verstappen

Red Bull RB16B - 2021 Turkish Grand Prix - Max Verstappen

Discover our Red Bull Collection >

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner was awarded his OBE for services to motorsport in 2013. In a position he has held since the team's formation in 2005, he has overseen nine world titles, four Constructors' Championships and five Drivers' Championships. 

Formula One's Safety and Medical Delegate Professor Sid Watkins (2002), former Ferrari Technical Director and Brawn Team Principal Ross Brawn (2010), leading engineer Adrian Newey (2012), team owner Eddie Jordan (2012), former Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams (2016), and Grand Prix commentators Murray Walker (1996) and Raymond Baxter (2003) have also all received OBEs. 

Member of the Order of the British Empire

MBE

Member of the Order of the British Empire is awarded to someone for making a positive impact in their line of work. Mike Hailwood, nine-time motorcycle World Champion and two-time F1 podium achiever, was awarded an MBE in 1968 for service to motorcycle racing. Alan Jones, the 1980 World Drivers’ Champion, was awarded an MBE shortly after his title victory. The Australian played a key role in earning Williams their first ever Constructors' Championship. Five-time Grand Prix winner and 1987 World Sportscar Championship runner-up John Watson was appointed an MBE in 1983 for services to motor racing. 1966 Le Mans winner Chris Amon, widely considered to be one of the skilful and natural drivers to ever grace Formula 1, received his MBE in 1993. Amon was also regarded as one of the unluckiest drivers in the sport, but he always refuted the 'unlucky' tag, instead saying he was lucky to have survived one of motorsport's most dangerous eras.

 BAR-Honda 007 - 2005 Formula 1 Season - Jenson Button MBE

BAR-Honda 007 - 2005 Formula 1 Season - Jenson Button MBE

Discover the full gallery >

After winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2009, Jenson Button was awarded an MBE. The Frome-born driver had previously achieved a high of third in 2004 as a part of BAR Honda, before becoming a Brawn GP driver for the astonishing 2009 season. He later became the 2019 Champion of the Super GT Series alongside Naoki Yamamoto, again racing in a Honda. 

Former McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard was appointed an MBE in 2010 for services to motorsport. A thirteen-time Grand Prix winner, the Scotsman is placed 23rd in the overall list of Formula 1 winners and finished runner-up in the Drivers' Championship in 2001, coming second only to the dominant Michael Schumacher.

 McLaren F1 GTR - 1995 Le Mans - Third Place - Derek Bell MBE, Andy Wallace and Justin Bell

McLaren F1 GTR - 1995 Le Mans - Third Place - Derek Bell MBE, Andy Wallace and Justin Bell

Discover the full story >

Derek Bell, five-time winner at Le Mans and F1 points scorer was awarded an MBE for services to motorsport in 1986. Bell is joint-third in the all-time list of Le Mans winners, emerged victorious at Daytona three times in four years and also was triumphant in the 1985 and 1986 World Endurance Championship for Drivers standings. 

Other figures who have received an MBE include Phil Irving, famed for building the Repco-Brabham engine of 1966,  was awarded an MBE in 1976 for his services to automotive engineering. Eric Broadley, founder of Lola Cars was appointed an MBE in 1991 for his services to motorsport. Susie Wolff, former Williams test driver and current Roki Venturi Racing Team Principal in Formula E, was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to Women In Sport. 

Honourable Mentions

In 1973, both Mike Hailwood and David Purley were awarded George Medals for bravery. Hailwood rescued Clay Regazzoni from his burning BRM car at the 1973 South African Grand Prix, while Purley tried to save Roger Williamson, who was killed in a fire at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix. Hailwood was later awarded his MBE.

 
English