Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he battled with self doubt during his difficult 2023 season with Mercedes.
Although the seven-time World Champion finished third in the overall standings and scored six podiums this season, but he has not won a race since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
This year was the first time he has managed to achieve a pole position since that weekend in Jeddah, after storming to pole over the Hungarian GP weekend.
With former title rival Max Verstappen raking in 19 victories in a dominant season, Hamilton admits that he had moments of questioning his ability.
He told BBC Sport: "Ultimately, when you have difficult seasons like this, there are always going to be moments when you're like: 'Is it me, or is it the car? Do you still have it? Has it gone?"
"Because you're missing that, you know... when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you, and that spark, it's extraordinary. And that's what you're in the search for."
"I'm only human. If anyone in the world tells you they don't have those things, they're in denial. We're all human beings."
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Hamilton knew it would be a tough year
Hamilton knew that he was going to be in for a tough year when he first drove the W14 at the pre-season shakedown at Silverstone in February.
The Mercedes engineers elected to stick with their unique car design against Hamilton's wishes, however the gamble ended up being the wrong one and set them back several races as they caught up to the trends.
"I remember it feeling exactly the same. And that definitely was not a great feeling. I really had high hopes," he recalled.
"In February, when we do a download of where the car is going, I was a little more apprehensive, because the previous year it was like: 'The car is amazing, it's unique, no-one's going to have anything like it.' And then we get to the first test…
"So, I was a little bit more cautious when I was listening, and I was like: 'We will see.' And then the car had all these problems. I just knew it was going to be a long year."