Formula 1 has a new rivalry and it's one of the best things to happen to the sport in years. Scuderia Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Petronas Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton have thrown down the gauntlet and the battle for the World Championship is on. After the Azerbaijan Gran Prix, where several collisions occurred, both men made no secret of their feelings for each other. Their heated rivalry may be just what Formula 1 needs to boost its excitement and popularity.

Ferrari, Mercedes prepare to fight for the championship

Scuderia Ferrari and Petronas Mercedes are engaged in a battle that has not been seen in Formula 1 in quite some time.

In fact, it was not since Sebastian Vettel's last championship win in a Red Bull car in 2013 that we have seen such heated exchanges and competition. Then it was Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari that challenged Vettel, with the title coming down to the last race of the season.

In recent times, however, the championship battle has bounced between the Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Romberg, with Lewis Hamilton coming out on top more often than not. The lack of competition has been hard on Formula 1 and attendance and TV viewership has undergone a staggering drop in numbers. In an effort to stem the flow of fans to other forms of motor sports Formula 1 has changed rules and made an effort to level the playing field.

The efforts have, however, fallen short until this season began and Ferrari demonstrated that they may be able to give Mercedes a run for their money.

Duo ready for the race

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have both previously expressed the fact they enjoy the challenge of racing each other. There has been, up to this point, a familiarity between the two that bespoke of a mutual respect.

That all has changed, however, after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where Vettel hit Hamilton in the rear after Hamilton slowed on course during a yellow. Vettel then pulled up next to Hamilton and appeared to purposely hit the Mercedes driver. Vettel was punished a ten-second stop and go penalty by the stewards. The problem didn't end there though and discontent was expressed by both drivers and both teams with allegations being slung up and down pit lane.

Now the FIA, Formula 1's governing body, is considering additional punishment for Vettel's actions with their final decision to come later in the week.

What does all this upheaval mean for Formula 1? It means more excitement, more fans, and more money coming in. For the first time in a long time, there is real competition in Formula 1, an epic rivalry between two of the most successful drivers in the sport and two of the most famous teams and fans around the world love every moment of it.