The former chief of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, has sparked fury online after he appeared to dismiss Lewis Hamilton’s knighthood, saying the honour should only be given to “people who have really done something for the country”.

Speaking to German broadcaster n-tv, Mr Ecclestone, 91, added he didn’t think many people who are now knighted by the royals “really deserve it”.

“They all make a lot of money and donate some to charity but they haven’t done anything specific for the country.”

Mr Hamilton became Sir Lewis on Wednesday, when he was knighted by Prince Charles at Windsor Castle just days after losing out on the world title in Abu Dhabi.

The race attracted controversy after a safety car entered the track at the end of the race, with some drivers allowed to overtake it. This ended up giving rival Max Verstappen the chance to speed past Hamilton and snatch the victory.

Commenting on the fallout from the grand prix on Sunday, Mr Ecclestone said: “If you want to think about it carefully, on the first lap of that race [Hamilton] went off the circuit and came back on again and Verstappen stayed on the circuit and did absolutely nothing wrong.

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“Lewis wasn’t punished at all for this so shouldn’t be complaining too much.”

The ex-F1 boss’s remarks have been met with anger on Twitter, with users describing the comments as “disgusting”.

Others pointed out that Mr Ecclestone hasn’t been knighted himself:

It isn’t the first time that the former executive has come under fire for comments about Mr Hamilton and race. Earlier this year the 91-year-old claimed the sporting star was “being used” by the Black Lives Matter movement.

In June 2020, he suggested in “lots of cases, black people are more racist than white people are”.

Mr Hamilton later criticised Mr Ecclestone for the remarks, calling him “ignorant and uneducated”.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday that same month, the former boss denied being “anti black people” and that he was “quite the opposite”.

“I have always been very much in favour,” he said.

It should hopefully go without saying that Sir Lewis, a seven-time world champion who beat F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s 91-win record last year, is more than worthy of a knighthood.

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