Daniel Ricciardo acknowledges friction with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen could be inevitable if the pair were challenge for the Formula One world title, describing it as "part of the game".
Mercedes' prolonged period of dominance in F1 continued in 2016, leaving the chasing pack struggling to keep up, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton once again battled for supremacy.
Red Bull were the best of the rest, but the gulf to Mercedes was such that Ricciardo and exciting newcomer Verstappen were able to race in harmony.
But amiable Australian Ricciardo is savvy enough to realise the positive working relationship is sure to be tested if Red Bull can challenge for glory.
Speaking to The Guardian, Ricciardo said: "I can't be naive and think we are still going to love each other no matter what, even if we are banging wheel to wheel every race.
"We are competitors. If there is tension or friction as the season goes on that's part of the game."
Red Bull have history when it comes to warring drivers, with Sebastian Vettel often at odds with Mark Webber during their time racing together between 2010 and 2013.
The prospect of a rivalry between the current line-up is one that would be sure to make motorsport enthusiasts purr given the fearless approach to racing held by Ricciardo and Verstappen.
And the older man recognises the importance of staying one step ahead of Verstappen.
"If Lewis [Hamilton] beats me in a Mercedes, I can tell the world he beat me because his car is better," he added.
"But if Max beats me every race I am going to run out of excuses, so certainly your team-mate is the number one person you want to beat.
"If I am putting myself out there and taking some of these risks, then I want to do it properly. If I am going to race I will put everything on the line."
17. Januar 2018
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