For Ferrari to mount a real season-long challenge to Mercedes for either championship, it needs to be on top of the reliability problems that cost it last year. And it needs the drivers, especially Sebastian Vettel, not to be quite so hot-headed.
On top of that, Ferrari needs a car that is a bit faster, especially at the higher-speed tracks. After all, at the end of last year its average performance over the season was still 0.178% down on Mercedes. That's a lot better than the 0.866% deficit of 2016, but to put up a season-long challenge it needs to be nip and tuck between the two every race. Plus, there might just be another team or two joining the party, so it's not just about Mercedes.
Looking back, there were 11 different winners in 1982 and 30 years later, in 2012, the season started off with seven different drivers winning in the first seven races. I'm not saying we'll see that again, but we can keep hoping for it and there's a chance it could be a bit more competitive up front. Then, being competitive every race is doubly important.