Lewis Hamilton says he's heading into his sixteenth F1 season feeling "the freshest" and at the best he's ever felt.
A lengthy winter break from the limelight, including social media, after last year's disappointing and dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi provided Hamilton with a much needed reset and period of contemplation.
Although speculation over the Mercedes driver's future was in overdrive during F1's down season, Hamilton says that taking stock of his affairs and reflecting on his life had become an annual routine for the seven-time world champion at the end of any season.
"Naturally I think at the end of any season, probably for those that are around my age, of course you’re thinking about the future," Hamilton said in Barcelona last week.
"You’re thinking about what are the next steps, what are the right steps for you to take, what’s right for you in terms of overall happiness? So I always evaluate all my options."
But Hamilton's period of soul-searching conducted against the back drop of the dramatic events that unfolded in Abu Dhabi was never going to lead to his departure from the grid, as disillusioned as he may he felt.
"I did make a commitment to the team early on in the season, and ultimately I love what I do," he added.
"I love being a part of the team. I love working with, and I’ve said it so many times, working with everyone towards a common goal.
"I feel I’m at my best. So why do I need to leave? There are so many different ways you can refocus and be recentered, and I would say this [winter] is one of the best that I’ve experienced.
"So I feel the freshest today that I feel I ever have."
While the media and F1 fans kept Hamilton's name in the headlines all winter, the man himself says that F1 was rarely on his mind during his break, most of which was spent with his family an dinner circle.
"Of course I speak to my dad about those things, because it’s something we started together, but we didn’t touch on it," Hamilton said.
"It was generally more about being present, living in the moment, creating memories. I know sometimes in life we get so focused, and stuck into certain things like work that we forget to do those things.
"It was a great time just refreshing, remembering. It was the best period of time I’ve ever had with my family."