Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have won seven of the last nine Formula One drivers' titles between them and are both excited by the prospect of a titanic duel for supremacy in 2017.
After three years of Mercedes holding all the aces in F1, significant regulation changes appear to have opened the door for a more competitive campaign and it was Ferrari's Vettel who claimed victory in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton and new team-mate Valtteri Bottas had to settle for second and third respectively as Ferrari showed their impressive form in testing was no false dawn.
In the post-race news conference in Melbourne, both Vettel and Hamilton were asked about the prospect of racing on relatively equal terms - with the German's four world titles to date having come in an era of Red Bull dominance and his rival having claimed two of his three crowns in a Mercedes that was far superior to any challenger.
"I have great respect [for Hamilton]," said Vettel. "He's proven to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid and for sure I would love to have a close battle.
"Obviously right now it looks like we have equal machinery. I hope it stays that way and then we will see how it turns out, but it's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories and a lot of fun to race against the best."
Hamilton responded: "Yeah, I second that. [I have an] incredible amount of respect for Sebastian and what he's achieved in his career. It's been a privilege to be racing in an era with him and now finally at a period of time when we can actually have a real race.
"I wish we could race a lot closer in the cars than we have today but still I think the fact that we are similar pace-wise, it's going to be a very, very hard slog this season.
"It's going to be physically and mentally demanding but as Sebastian said, racing the best is what Formula One is all about and ultimately makes you work that much harder, having to raise the bar and I'm looking forward to that."