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World champion Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull to become a major threat to Mercedes in 2017.
Red Bull took pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix and Daniel Ricciardo displaced team-mate Max Verstappen for fourth in qualifying for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, just 0.4secs behind Hamilton in Montreal.
Mercedes' driver Hamilton expects the gap between the two teams to close over the next year following a power upgrade on their Renault engine.
"For sure they've definitely made a step," Hamilton said.
"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."
Hamilton starts from pole position in today’s Canadian Grand Prix, and is hopeful that he is back in the world championship mix after cutting the deficit on leader, Mercedes' team-mate Nico Rosberg, to 24 points with victory in Monaco.
“I don’t remember much about the first races but I think the last couple of races the starts have been relatively good," he continued.
"Obviously the last race we didn’t do a start but I feel pretty confident it’s going to be good.”