Lewis Hamilton feels the biggest challenge to Mercedes’ dominance of Formula 1 could come from Red Bull in the 2017 season.
Mercedes have won both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles in each of the last three seasons, with Hamilton taking the Drivers’ Championship in 2014 and 2015 before being beaten to the top prize by Nico Rosberg last term.
However, with sweeping regulation changes implemented ahead of the 2017 campaign the Briton believes the Silver Arrows could face greater competition from their rivals.
Hamilton, who will be partnered by Valtteri Bottas following Rosberg’s decision to retire, is wary of Ferrari but he feels Red Bull could emerge as real contenders in the battle for silverware.
“It’s a completely new slate. It might be Ferrari at the front, it might be Red Bull, we have no idea,” he told the BBC. “I think the big unknown is Red Bull.
“I think they always create an amazing car and this is a new area of downforce and they’re amazing at creating downforce so I think it’ll be really interesting to see what they pull out and I’m hoping it’ll be a real mixture of competition.
“I hope it’ll be close so we’ll be fighting with Red Bull and Ferrari. That’s what the fans want to see.”
Hamilton is 2.10 to claim the Drivers’ Championship next season and former Williams driver Bottas is priced at 4.75. Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are 5.00 and 4.00 respectively, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is 15.00 and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 41.00.