Simona de Silvestro says her signs of form at the back end of 2017 were a great relief at the time, and now serve as a source of optimism heading into the 2018 Supercars season.
The Swiss star heads into her second full season of Supercars racing with the factory-backed Nissan squad this week, starting with a return to the gruelling Adelaide 500 event in the South Australian capital.
Admitting that much of her rookie Supercars year was frustrating as she grappled with both the Nissan Altima hardware and needing to learn almost every circuit from scratch, she reckons everything feels much more 'normal' a second time around.
She also says some strong performances in the back end of last season, namely an impressive showing on the streets of Newcastle where she pulled off a number of highlights-worthy passing moves, have given her confidence that she's close to cracking the Supercars nut.
"Yeah it's different this time, it's a bit more normal because I know how a Supercars season goes," she told Motorsport.com.
"It makes me a little bit more at ease, a little bit more comfortable with what's coming up. Knowing Adelaide as well, that's a good thing.
"The biggest thing is that we finished last season showing that we have really good pace. Now I know it's possible in Supercars, I know it's possible to race how I used to race.
"Everyone warned me that its quite tricky to drive in Supercars; I think last year was a frustrating year, just trying to understand how to drive in these cars. But I felt that towards the end of the season I really got a handle on it, and I think I showed in Newcastle that I can be competitive.
"That was a big relief for myself. I used to race like that in IndyCar, and to see it's possible to do the same in these cars, that's a big relief for myself and a positive going into the new year."
Focus on qualifying
Late last year Nissan Motorsport lead driver and part-owner Rick Kelly called on de Silvestro to focus on single-lap pace in her second season, forecasting that if she could improve her starting position, race results will quickly follow.
That concept hasn't been lost on de Silvestro either, who admits that improving on her average starting position of 22.6 is crucial this time around.
"That's the biggest thing that was hurting us last year, and that's really on me," she added.
"I need to nail when I'm out there in qualifying, I have to put it all together.
"You know, a couple of tenths is a lot in Supercars. If you're starting 20th, it's much harder to move forward.
"The goal is to really nail those laps and extract everything I can out of the racecar in qualifying."