Stevenage racer Sir Lewis Hamilton, the most successful Formula One driver of all time, is in the process of changing his name.

The seven-time world champion said he wants to use his mother's maiden name, Larbalestier, alongside Hamilton.

He announced he had begun the process at the Dubai Expo 2020, ahead of the new Formula One season in Bahrain on Sunday March 20.

Hamilton, 37, said: "I am really proud of my family's name.

"My mum's name is Larbalestier and I am just about to put that in my name.

"I don't really fully understand the whole idea that when people get married the woman loses her name.

"I really want my mum's name to continue on with the Hamilton name."

The Comet: Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

He said he hopes he can start using the new name "soon".

The Mercedes team driver grew up in Stevenage and attended The Saint John Henry Newman School.

Hamilton's father, Anthony, separated from his mother Carmen Larbalestier when he was two years old.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will mark the start of Hamilton's 16th season.

He has won seven championships throughout his career, making him the joint-most successful driver of all time, level with Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton received a knighthood in 2021.

The Comet: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, SpainMercedes' Lewis Hamilton during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

According to PA news agency, Hamilton said the Bahrain GP will be "tough".

He said: "I am really hoping that when I get on the call this evening – with my team at Brackley and Brixworth – they have found some tricks and ways to extract more from this car.

"There were a lot of cars that looked fast in testing.

"Alfa Romeo looked fast, Valtteri Bottas looked quick, and obviously the Red Bull looked ridiculously fast – but we are the best team."

The Bahrain GP begins with practice rounds on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19.

The race at 3pm GMT on Sunday, March 20.

Hamilton is pitted against 2021 Formula One champion and Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.

Verstappen is tipped to win, with odds of 9/4 against Hamilton's 16/5.