Lewis Hamilton has officially become an honorary Brazilian citizen during the build up to this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, telling those in attendance at a special ceremony that “I really do feel like now I’m one of you”.
With plans revealed earlier in the year, Hamilton formally received the honour at the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia on Monday, where he noted the influence of idol Ayrton Senna as he grew up dreaming of racing in F1, and the support he has received from the country since arriving in the sport.
“I’d like to say a big, big thank you to everyone here at the house, for all those who’ve moved mountains to make this day possible. It is honestly the greatest honour for me to be here receiving and accepting this citizenship. I really do feel like now I’m one of you, finally,” said Hamilton, to rapturous applause.
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“When I arrived here in 2007 [Hamilton’s first F1 season], the love that’s grown, the experiences we’ve had and, particularly 2021 [his charge to victory], knowing you guys were cheering me on the way, it was one of the most special moments of my entire life. I can’t wait for us to continue to strive ahead.
“I really want to dedicate today, this honour, to Ayrton Senna – to Ayrton’s family, to his friends and to his fans. For me, when I was five years old, I saw Ayrton race for the first time, and that was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a world champion, just like him.
“It was then that I knew and learnt about Brazil. It was then that I started to play FIFA as Brazil! But really, through his eyes, I was able to see how passionate Brazilians were, and how deep it goes, the love and passion you have for your country, and how beautiful it is. I’m so excited to spend some more time here.”
During his speech, Hamilton stressed an ongoing commitment to “push for change and for diversity” around the world, adding that when he travels to Brazil he feels inspired to see “so many people fighting for the same thing”.
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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hailed a “special moment” for Hamilton, commenting: “To be recognised and celebrated by a country that calls Ayrton Senna one of their own is a true measure of Lewis’s incredible achievements, both on the asphalt of Interlagos and as an advocate for diversity in our sport.
“From each member of the team, Lewis, we are incredibly proud of you. ‘Obrigado’ for what we have achieved together so far – and we are excited by what is still to come!”