I’m my own harshest critic.

2017 has been the toughest year of my career.

Frustratingly, I feel like I am driving well but there are a number of factors stopping me from getting the results on the board. The team and I are working hard behind the scenes to get car 5 back to where it should be.

My qualifying laps and driving has been there but the race pace and results haven’t married up. Despite that you never stop believing in your ability or backing yourself.

The day you do start doing that is the same day you should give it all away.

Never stop believing in yourself.

I go in to every race weekend believing I can win.

Mark Winterbottom of Prodrive Racing Australia during the Winton SuperSprint, at the Winton Motor Raceway, Winton, Victoria, May 19, 2017.

I know that when everything clicks, the results will come, albeit taking a lot longer than I would like at the current time.

That in itself is probably the hardest part about sport – in any sport, you can be at the top and before you know it you are fighting to stay off the bottom.

It’s how you bounce back that defines your championship pedigree.

Rarely do you see athletes dominate year on year; it’s the athletes that perform at such a high level over a consistent period, experience a dip in positioning, then get back to the top who often get the praise of being “champions” of their sport.

And Supercars is no different in that regard.

If anything though, the disappointing season really does make you appreciate the quality of the Supercars Championship more.

To win a championship is something to be immensely proud of, and I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity and success I have achieved over my motorsport career.

I operate at a high level, with supreme personal expectations, so when I don’t meet those it is a frustrating period.

Mark Winterbottom during the Wilson Security Sandown 500, in Melbourne, Australia, September 17, 2017.

On the flip side though, when you do get the results you get the rewards, and that’s where you can sit back and appreciate those moments, and celebrate them because you know how tough the bad times can be.

I know my next championship will be my sweetest yet.

The GC600 this weekend presents us with an opportunity to get back on track, finish the year strongly in a bid to build some momentum for next year.

We are in a position where we have nothing to lose, and a heap to gain.

We aren’t needing to protect anything, so we can go all out to win the race. You can take more risk and can be more aggressive in your approach, knowing full well the reward is the result.

I’ve been in contrasting positions where you are protecting championships and there is lots of pressure to do the right thing to make sure you have a points lead heading into the final round, but the flip side this year is there is no championship to protect.

The pressure to perform and get the results is still there, but it’s a different way of racing.

You can push for those strategic passes and our car is set up so that we can be aggressive and go for the win.

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding; we’re confident in our preparations ahead of the Gold Coast event, and more than ready for a winning result.

Mark Winterbottom with his wife Renee and sons Oliver and Austin, at Sydney Motorsport Park
V8 SUPERCARS – FATHERS DAY – Pictured is Mark Winterbottom with his wife Renee and sons Oliver and Austin, at Sydney Motorsport Park. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Mark Winterbottom

Mark Winterbottom is an Australian professional racing driver.

Better known as "Frosty", Mark currently competes in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, driving the No. 5 Ford FG X Falcon for Prodrive Racing Australia.

His career highlights include winning the 2013 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and twice winning the Sandown 500, in 2006 and '15.

Winterbottom also won his maiden championship title in the 2015 International V8 Supercars Championship, making it the first title for Ford in five years at the time.