Valtteri Bottas says he has turned the negativity of a winless 2018 into motivation for the year to come, suggesting that the barren campaign could end up helping him in the long-term. Bottas became just the third driver in 20 years to go without a win across an F1 season in a championship-winning car.
Bottas saw early chances to win in China and Azerbaijan taken away by poor fortune, a last-gasp puncture when leading in Baku particularly disheartening.
The Finn struggled to recover and ended up playing a support role to teammate Lewis Hamilton's title bid, but Bottas says confidence is back for 2019.
When asked by GPFans if his 2018 goals had changed at a precise moment, Bottas said: "There was definitely a point in the season, can't remember the exact place, but it was pretty clear at some point that I wasn't going to be fighting for the championship.
"As a driver, once you have certain goals for the season, once you work hard for it, and it gets taken away, you need to reset and make new targets.
"It's not always easy. It was pretty obvious last year, when I knew [title hopes had gone], that the end of the year would be difficult."
Continuing on how he would cope with the pessimism spilling into 2018, he added: "[I'm] not worried at all about carrying on the negativity from last year.
"I think vice versa – maybe it was good for me. I feel really good now in relation to forgetting the negativity, and whatever is left of it I've turned that into motivation."
Once Bottas chances were gone, Mercedes utilised team orders at a number of events, most notably the Russian Grand Prix, where a likely Bottas win was taken away in order to let Hamilton win.
Ferrari's new team principal Mattia Binotto said earlier this week that Sebastian Vettel may be "prioritised" over newcomer Charles Leclerc in the early races of 2019, but Bottas is not concerned that Mercedes will see the need to follow suit.
"I have no concerns because we have agreed something a couple of years back and it's up to my performance," he said.
"Obviously we'll see as the season goes. Last year it became a big gap between me and Lewis in the points, so things were slightly different, but it's going to be up to me [this year] so no concerns."