Max Verstappen has revealed the weekend that sparked his belief that a second F1 title was back on the table after a disastrous start to the year.
The Dutchman's championship defence got off to a dreadful start with two retirements from the opening three races, with rival Charles Leclerc winning on both instances.
Following his second mid-race exit, Verstappen slated his Red Bull team and claimed, "I don't really want to think about a championship fight at the moment."
The 46-point deficit to Ferrari driver Leclerc leaving Melbourne was quickly shrunk at the next event at Imola with Verstappen winning both the sprint and grand prix, an outcome that altered the 25-year-old's thinking.
"The Imola weekend was very good, we had a really strong weekend and then, of course, the gap was slowly reducing," said Verstappen.
"That's normally always a good sign, but you can't afford - at the time we couldn't afford any more retirements."
Verstappen secured the world title with four races to spare at the Japanese Grand Prix and ended the year 146 points clear of Ferrari driver Leclerc.
"Of course, the gap [at the end of the year] was very big so we could have had retirements but at the time, after already two DNFs so early on in the year we turned it around very quickly.
"But honestly, I don't really remember what race I thought that it was back on but I think for us, as a team, Imola was a very important weekend, to have that kind of result."