Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the 2018 Formula One season will be remembered as a classic as his team's dominance of recent years comes under threat from Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes has secured every drivers' and constructors' title for the past four seasons but this year has gone three races without a race victory -- the team's longest barren spell since the start of 2014. After two wins for Ferrari and a win for Red Bull, both championships look wide open ahead of this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix and Wolff believes it is the most exciting start to a season for several years.
"The 2018 Formula One season is set to be a celebration of everything we love about motor racing," Wolff said. "Three teams are fighting fiercely for race wins. We've witnessed exciting races with nail-biting overtakes. The fastest F1 cars in history, driven by some of the best drivers this sport has seen. So far, this year has all the ingredients for one of those legendary F1 seasons -- a season that fans will look back on with smiles on their faces in years to come.
"We know that we have a massive challenge on our hands. Last year, we were in a tough fight with Ferrari. However, it was nothing compared to the intensity of this year's battle. Both Red Bull and Ferrari will do everything they can to beat us.
"Their cars, their teams, their drivers -- all of them operate at a high level and will continue to put us under pressure. Not everyone likes this kind of challenge -- but we love it. Each member of our team joined this sport for these moments."
Last year, Azerbaijan's Baku street circuit produced one of the most exciting races of the season, with Daniel Ricciardo emerging victorious after Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel clashed behind the Safety Car. With no clear favourite after the first three races of this season, Wolff another closely fought race this weekend.
"We're going into the race weekend in Baku feeling excited about that unpredictability. It will be the first time the Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place in April, with completely different conditions to the previous years when we went to the Caspian Sea in June.
"This is a demanding circuit where the drivers need confidence in the car to find the right rhythm -- and you want to hit the ground running on Friday morning. Last year's race threw up a podium that nobody could have predicted and, as is the way with street courses, we can once again expect the unexpected."