We have not even had the first race of the season yet but the tension between Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel is already simmering.
Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix with a time of one minute, 21.164 seconds in Saturday's qualifying.
The Briton's Q3 quick lap came after Vettel had topped the timesheets in Q2, again sparking speculation that his upturn in performance was down to a special qualifying engine mode, dubbed 'party mode'.
Hamilton fires back at Vettel in post-qualifying press conference
But Hamilton rejected that he had implemented any kind of boost in engine performance and landed an early blow on Vettel in this season's round of verbal sparring.
"I can assure you we don't have a party mode," he told reporters at a news conference. "I used the same mode from Q2 to the end of Q3. There was no extra button, no extra mode that I engaged in."
Vettel interjected by asking: "What were you doing before, then?"
"I was waiting to put a good lap in so I could wipe the smile off your face," came the catty response from Hamilton.
Fastest lap "as close as it gets" to perfection, says Hamilton
Hamilton added: "On that lap I was in the same mode as lap before - it was about getting the tyres in the right temperature and getting the sectors right.
"I had good sectors before but it was about putting them together.
"You would think that with the results we had through the years it would be the norm [but] it was still just as intense. My heart is racing. But I am so happy with that lap.
"It was such a nice lap. I am always driving for perfection and that is as close as it gets."