Hamilton ‘speechless’ to honorary Brazilian citizenship

SAO PAULO, June 9 (Reuters) – Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was speechless after being made an honorary citizen of Brazil when the lower house of parliament passed a bill law Thursday.

The move was proposed by Congressman Andre Figueiredo after last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix was won by the British driver who unfurled the Brazilian flag at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo.

Hamilton backed the move in April, when he traveled to Sao Paulo to deliver a keynote speech at an event focused on business and digital transformation, saying he would be honoured. Read more

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“Today I received honorary citizenship from one of my favorite places in the world,” Hamilton, who is racing in Azerbaijan this weekend, told his 28.4 million Instagram followers.

“I don’t really have the words right now. Thank you Brasil, I love you, I can’t wait to see you again.”

Footballing great Pele, 81, replied to the message: “Congratulations Lewis. I am happy to now be able to consider you a compatriot.”

The lower house will now hold a formal sitting to issue the 37-year-old with honorary citizenship. A date has not yet been set.

Figueiredo, a member of Brazil’s Democratic Labor Party, praised the Mercedes driver for celebrating the country in last year’s race and noted that he had always considered Brazil’s three-time world champion Ayrton Senna his idol. ‘childhood.

Hamilton, knighted by his own country, had his name sung along with that of local hero Senna as he carried the Brazilian flag to the podium last year.

Republican Party Congressman Jhonatan de Jesus said in a statement that Hamilton had a “deep and highly emotional” relationship with Brazil and the tribute was well deserved.

“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 underlined”, a said Jesus.

The Congressional vote was largely symbolic as the debate lasted about 10 minutes. Some members of Congress, however, greeted the bill with criticism.

“I recognize the achievements of Lewis Hamilton…but this bill clearly shows that we are not addressing Brazil’s structural problems first,” said New Party’s Tiago Mitraud.

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Writing by Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo, additional reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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