When we think of historic battles that have been etched into the pages of Formula 1 history, our minds tend to lean towards Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost or James Hunt taking on Niki Lauda.
However, the sport has lacked such a battle in recent years, so in 2017 are we about to see two titans of a generation finally go toe to toe for the world title?
The 2017 season might only be in its infancy, but there is plenty to suggest Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are about to embark in a battle the world has longed to witness.
Both drivers have won in the opening three races, but they both know this is going to be a season where one mistake could be costly and hand their rival more valuable points.
Seven of the last nine world championships have been won by either Vettel or Hamilton, yet neither driver has directly been a title rival in any of them bar the 2010 season where Hamilton was still was in mathematical contention, but this relied on Vettel, Fernando Alonso, and Mark Webber all to not score points in the season’s finale in Abu Dhabi.
Ever since then both drivers went on to dominate the world of F1 – albeit without directly duelling each other for the top honours. Finally this looks to set to change.
For the past three season, Mercedes has had a car more dominant than any other in the history of the sport, taking Hamilton to two world titles and Nico Rosberg to one.
With new regulations for 2017 it looks as if Ferrari has made the jump to tackle Mercedes head on, even perhaps dare I say it with the better car of the two?
It’s not a far stretch to think with what we have witnessed so far is potentially that Ferrari’s SF70H is marginally better than Mercedes’ W08 and this could be hard to believe for some, but this looks to be true, at least in these early stages of the season.
Hamilton himself looks to be revelling in the prospect such a battle, after three straight years of battling for a world championship with a team-mate whom he had so much previous history with, it’s no surprise he is ready for something so tantalisingly fresh.
Talking in the post race conference in China, Hamilton said: “I think it’s going to be one of the closest ones, if not the closest I’ve personally ever experienced and I’m looking forward to this fight, not only with Sebastian but the other guys as well who are still going be in amongst it.”
This eagerness to take the fight to Vettel is clearly burning deep with inside the Briton, he has stated numerous times he wants a close title battle with as many people as possible because it’ll feel more intense and valuable should he win it, something I think we all wish for every year.
Vettel, on the other hand, is relishing the chance of being in a consistent race winning car for the first time since his title-winning Red Bull days. He has said before that wants to emulate his hero Michael Schumacher in turning Ferrari once again into a winning machine, by doing so he could get a fifth world title that would make him one of only three drivers to claim five or more titles.
Both drivers clearly respect each other and are prepared to go toe to toe, unlike rivalries of the past where tensions rose to sky levels and the animosity behind the scenes to almost incomprehensible levels.
Prost and Senna’s battles for example clearly showed that they had a massive disdain for each other that often spilt over onto the race track, this doesn’t look like it could be the case for Hamilton and Vettel.
Unless Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen can come on song and join this battle to potentially make it a four-way fight, it looks set to be a two-horse race for the crown between Hamilton and Vettel – a battle that will certainly be one to remember.
Who do you think will come out on top in what is surely going to define a generation of F1 as to who truly is the best? The hard-charging, tenacious, eager Lewis Hamilton? Or the meticulous, cheeky yet ruthless Sebastian Vettel?