Valtteri Bottas admits that he “lost a little bit” of love for F1 in 2018, but found it again last season.
The Finn enjoyed his best season in Mercedes colours in 2019, winning four races and ending the season P2 behind team-mate and champion Lewis Hamilton.
It was this upturn in form which secured Bottas a new deal for 2020, and he admits that if his 2019 campaign had have played out like 2018, then the Silver Arrows would have likely let him go.
“If I’d had a similar season to 2018, I don’t [think] the team would have continued with me,” he told Autosport.com.
“That’s how Formula 1 works.
“It’s so important for me and also for my general well-being.
“I’ve had much more fun between the races now, and kind of fell in love with the sport, which I maybe lost a little bit towards the end of last year.
“I’m really enjoying the driving and it’s such an important season for me.
“Now I can happily say again I have many, many years of me, and hopefully still with that same development.”
A poor end to 2018 saw Bottas finish P5 in the last four races, but this year he won two of the last five grand prixs, taking the chequered flag in Japan and the United States, and the Finn admits that the closing stages of 2018 were very hard for him.
“I’m definitely in a very different mindset compared to last year,” he said.
“I was counting down the days that the season will be done, and that I can find a way to get myself back together and start fresh from zero again.
“The last month of last season, that felt like a long, long time.”
Although not too important, Bottas does think his strong finish to 2019 makes it a “nicer” experience going into next year, while it also shows Mercedes that he can be strong everywhere.
“It’s nicer, and an easier way mentally to start the [next] season,” he explained.
“I feel it’s important to have good results, not only in the last few races.
“It’s not 100% necessary, because I know that even after a bad season, you can start a new season strong.
“But it is just nicer, and also for the team to know that I can perform for the whole year, on every single race track, and then they know that I’m definitely upward for 2020.”