The prospect of 2016 being Mercedes' last year of dominance ahead of major rule changes next season adds extra emphasis to the title battle, according to Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton is in a head-to-head fight with teammate Nico Rosberg for the 2016 title and took the lead in the championship for the first time ahead at the Hungarian Grand Prix last month. Mercedes has dominated the current set of regulations since 2014, with Hamilton twice beating Rosberg to the title, but the prospect of rival teams challenging Mercedes' hegemony under new aerodynamic regulations in 2017 adds an extra element to this year's battle for Hamilton.
"That definitely is a very good possibility and that puts even more emphasis on makings sure that we utilise this [chance]," Hamilton said. "If it is the last year [of Mercedes dominance] I want to make sure that I maximise on it. So there's no shortcuts and there's no rest really during the year, but you've got to enjoy it as well.
"It's my 31st year in my life but it's my tenth year in F1. And I'm enjoying driving more than ever so it's really important to enjoy it because it's going quick. My tenth season and I've got six more maybe or whatever it is and then I'm gone and that will go quick, because this 10 has really felt like its gone quick, so I'm going to make sure I enjoy it.
"Next year is going to be interesting, I think we've got a great team and we'll continue it, but it's a race of who started [the 2017 project] first or maybe someone started earlier and hasn't done a good enough job. Hopefully we've started in similar times and I hope we are still in the battle, I'm sure we will be."
Hamilton struggled with a series of reliability issues at the start of his 2016 campaign, allowing Rosberg to build a 43-point lead by the fifth round in Spain. Since then, Hamilton has scored six wins in seven races and turned that deficit into 19-point lead over his teammate. Given the issues he faced earlier in the season, Hamilton says a 2016 title victory would come with extra satisfaction.
"I think it will. I think for me, all race wins, all results, feel different for a different reason, surprisingly. You've had a different start, you've felt different on that day. Sometimes it's been easier and sometimes it's been harder, sometimes you've felt more stress, sometimes you've felt fitter -- all these different things.
"It always feels new and every championship I've won I seem to enjoy it more and more and more and winning those championships has always been a different journey, so this one feels like a completely new journey for me and I think if I get to where I want to be at the end of this journey then for sure it's going to feel as good if not greater than ever before."