SAO PAULO (REUTERS) - Formula One's seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was made an honorary citizen of Brazil on Thursday (June 9) as the lower house of parliament passed a Bill on the matter.
The move had been proposed by congressman Andre Figueiredo after last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, at which the British driver unfurled the Brazilian flag after winning at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit.
Hamilton himself backed the move in April, when he visited Sao Paulo to deliver a keynote speech at an event focused on business and digital transformation, saying he would be honoured.
The house will now hold a solemn session to deliver the 37-year-old the honorary citizenship. A date is yet to be set.
Figueiredo, a member of Brazil's Democratic Labour Party, praised the Mercedes driver for celebrating the country at last year's race and noted that he has always held up the late Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna as his boyhood idol.
Hamilton, knighted by his own country, had his name chanted along with that of Senna, a local hero, as he carried Brazil's flag on to the podium last year.
Congressman Jhonatan de Jesus of the Republicans party said in a report that Hamilton has a "deep and strongly emotional"relationship with Brazil and the tribute was well-deserved.
"His gestures add to his indisputable sporting merit. His public positions in support of relevant issues such as the environment, animal rights, Black people, women and human rights must also be remembered and highlighted," Jesus said.
The Congress vote was largely symbolic as the debate lasted for about 10 minutes. Some members of Congress, however, met the Bill with criticism.
"I recognize Lewis Hamilton's achievements...but this Bill makes clear that we are not addressing Brazil's structural problems as a priority," Tiago Mitraud of the New Party said.