Daniel Ricciardo says he removed any expectations ahead of Saturday's qualifying in Hungary and privileged instead a "relaxed" approach to the exercise.
And the AlphaTauri driver's laid-back attitude paid off as he made the Q2 cut, contrary to his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.
Ricciardo will start Sunday's race from 13th on the grid, but admitted that he'll be a little more "jacked up" than in qualifying for his first race start since Abu Dhabi last November.
"Of course coming into the weekend I knew there would be a bit of a hill to climb," he said. "And I was trying not to get caught up on how I go this weekend.
"But of course, I'm a race car driver, so I'm always going to expect something out of myself. But truthfully, I was really trying to remove as much as that as I could and just make sure that this is the place that makes me feel like myself again.
"And, you know, jumping in the car and qualifying, I felt actually really relaxed and just, not to take it lightly, but just happy to be back and happy to be able to push a car on the limit again.
"This is something that I obviously didn't always have in the last year or two. That's why I think the time off was needed for me.
"I thought I was going get 12 months. In the end, it was only about six or seven, whatever, but fortunately it was enough. You know, I felt like I had enough time to, let's say, fall back in love."
For Sunday, the Aussie vowed to play it smart from the outset, but without being "soft", all too aware that his Hungarian Grand Prix will equate first and foremost to a full scale learning session.
"I'll get a little more jacked up tomorrow, but I think as well just be smart," he said. "Of course, I need to get into it and race and not be soft.
"But I think as well I need to ideally log the laps, and get info for the team. So obviously do that competitively, but just be smart. So we'll see what happens.
"I think I've done probably only maybe an eight-lap run or something at the moment. I think tomorrow there's going to be a lot of things for me to learn in terms of tyre management, but also the car with fuel.
"As the tyres go off, I think I'll start to probably discover a bit more about the car and obviously then in those conditions, the weaknesses.
"And so I think there'll probably be laps where I'm maybe not doing too great, but then there'll be times where I'm doing better because I'm learning as I go in a way.
"I don't want to say that negatively, but yeah, inevitably there's going be still a handful of things to pick up on, and hopefully I can be a fast learner. And if we find our way in the points, then that would be huge.
"Obviously as a team we need to get points, but it's really just making sure that I'm on top of the car, at one with the car, and then that's let's say the first box I need to tick first."