Lewis Hamilton has seemingly not closed the door on a potential future move across the paddock to main title rivals Ferrari, reiterating that he is a "huge fan" of Formula One's oldest and traditionally most successful team.
After a decade without a world championship title to their name and three years of unrelenting Mercedes dominance, the Scuderia have finally emerged as serious contenders to the Silver Arrows' throne in 2017.
Heading into the eighth race weekend of the season in Azerbaijan, Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton by 12 points in the Driver Standings and only eight points currently separate the teams in the race for the Constructors' Championship.
Hamilton's future has been a hot topic already this week, with the three-time world champion distancing himself from earlier claims that he could emulate former rival Nico Rosberg by deciding to bid a premature farewell to the grid.
And while a future seat with Ferrari does not seem to be beyond the realms of possibility, Hamilton insists he remains more than happy at Mercedes and is currently more focused on how to consistently outwit the resurgent Italians rather than thinking about pulling on those famous red overalls.
"That is not something I am thinking about at the moment - rather the contrary, as I am getting my head around how to beat them," Hamilton told reporters in Baku when asked if he would consider driving for Ferrari at some stage during his illustrious career.
"Nevertheless I have never made it a secret that I am a huge fan of the team, of what they have achieved in the history of motorsport and also in the normal world in regards to their street cars. Who knows what the future holds, but at the moment I cannot imagine being anywhere else but here (at Mercedes). I am really enjoying the fight that we have with Ferrari."
After one world title with McLaren in 2008, Hamilton jumped ship to Mercedes in 2013. He is currently contracted to the Brackley-based team until the end of 2018, having signed a bumper new contract two years ago rumoured to be worth a cool £100m ($127.2m). Such a deal was said to have made him Britain's best-paid sportsman.
Vettel, a four-time world champion with Red Bull, is out of contract at the end of the current season and has yet to agree a new deal. Likewise veteran teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who won Ferrari's last title back in 2007 but seems unlikely to be handed another one-year extension.