Lewis Hamilton says he is revelling in his new-found independence after leaving the 'controlled' environment of McLaren.
Hamilton admitted there were points where he struggled for motivation, energy and focus during his time with McLaren, but insists such concerns have been banished following his gamble to move to Mercedes.
"I have been in a very controlled environment since I can remember and it's not until the last couple of years that I've come out of that control," Hamilton told the Daily Mirror. "Now I make the decisions I want to. I'm my own man and that's what I always wanted.
"I'm happier now. I can do things and I don't have to report to anyone. Obviously I've got bosses at Mercedes, but no one controls me now. I'm able to be my own man."
Hamilton conceded that the protection he enjoyed during his formative grand prix years had not always been beneficial, particularly as it also reduced his autonomy.
"There was particularly an experience where in my personal life I was having someone saying things to me which was really affecting me," Hamilton explained. "It saps your energy and it saps your will to want to do things. You are not able to focus on the job at hand.
"There was a point where I was driving and I was crashing for no reason. I was just not on the ball. It was lack of energy, lack of motivation. It's almost like depression.
"That was three years ago. Unfortunately, it did affect me. Now I don't have that."
Hamilton described his move to Mercedes as a risk, but says after the opening four races it has paid dividends for both his racing form and his personal happiness.
"Being someone who likes adrenalin and taking risks," he said, "I think there was a point where I weighed up the options and they were both good options but one was slightly riskier than the other and I wanted to try it. It's a little bit like when you leave home...in fact a bit more extreme than that.
"If I stayed, I would remain in that environment I'm used to my whole life. I would stay with people I'd known my whole life. I'd have been protected. If I go the other way it's all brand-new.
"I have to make the best use of it all, build those relationships, grab it with both hands, no time to mess around. There's no time for mistakes. It's all on me."