Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes won't go down this year without a fierce fight against Ferrari, but the reigning world champion has warned his team not to push itself too far in pursuit of its rival.
Two weeks of pre-season testing in Barcelona have elevated Ferrari to the status of favourite ahead of next week's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Mercedes and Red Bull, the Scuderia's front-running rivals, were both put on notice by the Italian outfit's winter performance.
Indeed, Hamilton himself believes that Ferrari's advantage at the outset could be as much as half a second, a potential gap that could force Mercedes to use everything at its disposal, and then some, to counter its opponent, at the risk of flirting with the ragged edge.
"It makes it harder for sure," said Hamilton of Ferrari's theoretical advantage.
"I think already last year, we as a team were behind on performance so we had to overachieve on delivery, and now we have to reach even further, it means we have to squeeze our performance even more.
"But we also have to be careful in that scenario because it can also push you over the edge and you can have faults.
"We've got the best team around us. We have experience, it's no coincidence that we are world champions so we have to be diligent and stay balanced.
"But as a driver for sure I have to figure out how can I pull more out, which I don't have the current answer for."
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Hamilton stands firmly behind the might and talent of his world championship winning Silver Arrows squad.
"We don't mind the challenge," said the Mercedes star.
"We will fight. It just means we have to work harder. But I am really really proud of what our team has done to get us here today.
"It is not that I am worried or disappointed.
"We are just incredibly encouraged and enthused that we are working as hard as we are, we have a hill to climb but we know how to do it."