Following their recent performance gains, aided by the new Renault power unit introduced in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton believes that Red Bull Racing will pose a much closer and more serious challenge to the current dominance of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS in 2017.
In Monte-Carlo, Daniel Ricciardo was able to secure pole position with a stunning lap that saw him eclipse the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg by one tenth of a second. They also looked much racier during the Monaco Grand Prix itself, and had it not been for their pit stop blunder, the Australian would likely have beaten Hamilton to victory as well.
At this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, we saw the closest qualifying margin yet, with just four tenths splitting the top four drivers. Ricciardo was fourth in that equation, but his lap was slightly compromised by tagging the wall of champions on his way to the start/finish straight.
Hamilton believes that this season Mercedes still have the edge to counter any challenge that comes their way from Red Bull or indeed Scuderia Ferrari, but speaking to F1i.com, the Brit explained how he believes next season will be a much different story.
“For sure they’ve definitely made a step. Do people know what they did? The engine upgrade … it’s taken a long time to get that upgrade, but it’s good for them to have good pace and now they’re closer to us to be in a battle. But I don’t think they’re quite with us, three tenths [in qualifying].
“It’s definitely good that they’re closer and I think they’ll continue to grow. Particularly on the engine side, it’s going to be the same engine next year so I think we look like having a much, much closer season next year I would imagine. On the power front at least.”