Lewis Hamilton says he and 2017 Formula 1 title opponent Sebastian Vettel have greater mutual respect than he has experienced in any other rivalry.
The pair are now tied atop the F1 drivers' championship having had a win and a second place apiece in 2017's opening grands prix.
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Though they have won seven of the last nine titles between them, Hamilton and Vettel have not previously had a one-on-one championship battle and currently enjoy a friendly relationship.
"I honestly think it will stay the way it is," said Hamilton.
"Who knows, maybe we'll have times where we are racing hard together, and of course there could be that scenario where one of us thinks something is unfair, or has been too aggressive, whatever it may be.
"But we're grown men, we've come a long way, and we've experienced a lot.
"The respect for one another is the highest that I have felt from another driver, especially of his calibre.
"It's amazing sportsmanship: when you win you enjoy it, and you also acknowledge the person next door. And even when you lose it's the same thing.
"We're both doing that, and that's a great place to be.
"Naturally he wants to kill me out there and beat me, and vice versa, but then outside the car the admiration for the other's achievements and the way that they drive [is there too].
"He's performing at his best, he is rapid out there, so when I'm able to get ahead, it only compliments you, and vice versa."
After three years of an exclusive title fight with now-former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton said taking on an external rival in a Ferrari made wins more satisfying.
"I'm fighting against a four-time world champion," he added.
"He is at his best and he is phenomenally quick. And Ferrari are at their best in years, in a decade, pretty much, I think.
"We're at our best as a team, and I feel like I'm at my best.
"The ultimate fighter always wants to go up against the best battle that he can have, because then when you come out on top, it's just so much more satisfying.
"So, yeah, I love this fight that we're having."
Hamilton hopes the title battle can be a straight head-to-head without disruption from outside influences such as accidents or the mechanical failures that marred his 2016 campaign.
"Sitting there with Sebastian we were like, 'this is going to go right down to the end of the season'," said Hamilton.
"And I just hope that, for both of us, there's nothing mechanical comes in between our sheer battle through ability.
"I really, really hope it's just an out and out fight through stubbornness, through mental stability, through fitness, through composure and all those things. And at times, through just outdriving the person on track.
"When other things start playing bigger roles, whether it is safety cars or whether it is mechanical things, that takes away that excitement of what racing's about."