Hamilton, Verstappen and all the F1 stars in Bahrain ahead of new season - in pictures

Drivers embark on three days of testing ahead of first race on March 5

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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff watched the Formula One stars prepare for the new season in Bahrain on Thursday and claimed his team are ready to carry Lewis Hamilton to a record eighth world championship.

In contrast to the gloom which engulfed the Silver Arrows last season as their jumpy machine hit the track for the first time, team principal Wolff was much more optimistic ahead of the first race in Bahrain on March 5.

After the first of three days of testing, Red Bull's double world champion Max Verstappen, who won 15 of the 22 grands prix last year, again looked in fine shape.

But Wolff believes Hamilton can add to his seven titles, despite last season being his worst.

“You need to provide a good car for a driver that has the ambition to win races and championships and we have that,” said Wolff.

“We want to win. At this stage last year, we knew we were in trouble because the car was bouncing around and we were not able to drive it correctly.

“But today, it is very different. The car seems to be balanced in the right way. There is no bouncing which is good news. It is a good starting point. We have had a productive morning.”

Hamilton is gearing up for his 17th season in F1 and his 11th with Mercedes, and is heading into the final year of his contract. But the noise from both the driver and Mercedes is that an extension will be signed regardless of their on-track form.

Wolff continued: “I am amazed because Lewis has been with the team for 10 years and every year he just come backs more mature, more professional and more understanding of what is good for him. He is in high spirits and super-determined.”

Pictures of the F1 stars on day one of testing can be seen in the gallery above. To view the next image, just swipe.

Updated: February 23, 2023, 4:39 PM