Lewis Hamilton has tipped McLaren to return to form next season now that its ill-starred partnership with Honda has ended.
Hamilton made his Formula 1 début with the team in 2007 alongside Fernando Alonso. He secured the team's last world championship in 2008 before moving to Mercedes in 2013.
“Next year, McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship,” Hamilton said this week.
"They've had such a difficult time," he added, admitting to a soft spot for his old team. "I always look to see where Fernando is, I always look to see where they are and am watching their progress.
"I really, really hope next year is a successful year for them. I really hope we are battling with them, because McLaren deserve to be at the front.
"I think Red Bull will be quicker and Ferrari for sure will be fast again. We can't stand still - we have to keep moving forwards.”
Hamilton added that "it would be amazing" if he, Alonso, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen were all to be in close contention for next year's title.
"I had a great battle with Fernando earlier this year, towards the end of this season," Hamilton said. "I'd love to have more battles with him on a much more level playing ground."
But if that does prove to be the case, the 32-year-old has no intention of making things easy for his rivals.
"I have the same mindset now for next year," Hamilton told the BBC. "When I'm training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship.
"It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset," he added. "If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it's not going to work. You've got to gear yourself up to win."
Hamilton is one of this year's sporting stars up for the BBC's prestigious sporting personality of the year. However, he won't be at today's ceremony in Liverpool as he's heading to the United States for his winter holiday.
Hamilton isn't the only big name to be skipping the event. Roger Federer, Mo Farah and Chris Froome are also believed to be missing the star-studded occasion.
"I go to the same place in the mountains every year," said Hamilton. "I have my dogs, I'm in the snow. It's very quiet and peaceful there.
"I spend most of the day sitting by the fireplace. We go skiing, watch some movies and catch up with some TV series.
"I've never even seen any of Game of Thrones," he added. "My friends and especially my brother are huge fans, and I think I'm going to get into it in the winter."