Lewis Hamilton was last night named Laureus Sportsman of the Year alongside Lionel Messi, although the Mercedes F1 driver was left disappointed that the Barcelona striker was not able to attend the award ceremony.
Hamilton, who secured his sixth F1 world title last season admitted he was sad that he didn’t have the opportunity to meet Messi, despite admitting communication between the pair might have been difficult.
“I wish Lionel was here so that I’d have the opportunity to get to know him,” Hamilton said.
“If he had been here I would’ve asked him for a picture.
“I think we’d get on like a house on fire, even if he doesn’t speak much English and I speak no Spanish.”
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Hamilton won 11 of 20 races last season and finished the season with an 87 point lead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second in the driver standings.
The Brit collected his award from former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and used his speech to call for the sport to make a greater effort to address the lack of diversity in Formula One.
“Our sport has little to no diversity and it is an issue we must face,” he said.
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“It is our responsibility to use our platforms to really push for gender equality and inclusivity, and really make sure we engage and represent where the world is today.
“I am also very conscious of the effect we’re all having on the environment and of the effect I have on it.
“I’m beginning to make changes and try to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
“I am trying to encourage other people to follow in my footsteps to build a better world.”
Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or last season, ahead of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk in second place and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo in third.
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With the votes tied between Hamilton and Messi for the Sportsman of the Year award, it meant joint winners would be announced for the first time in the award’s 20-year history.
American gymnast Simone Biles was named Sportswoman of the Year, the third of her career after winning the prize last year and in 2017.
The South Africa rugby team took home the Team of the Year award after winning the recent World Cup in Japan.
Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League-winning Liverpool team came in second place, ahead of the United States women’s national soccer team in third, who won the World Cup in France last summer.
Liverpool also missed out on the Comeback of the Year award despite overturning a 3-0 Champions League deficit against Barcelona by winning the second leg 4-0 at Anfield.
Instead, the award went to 19-year-old German F3 driver Sophia Floersc, who returned to racing last year after she had fractured her spine in an accident.
The teenager was involved in an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix in 2018 and underwent an 11-hour surgery to fix her injuries.
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