Only a spike in form for Valtteri Bottas last year ended Daniel Ricciardo's 2019 talks with Mercedes.
That is the admission of Toto Wolff.
Ricciardo starts his new Renault adventure in earnest this weekend, but Mercedes chief Wolff admits he negotiated tentatively with the Australian last year.
"We've always had an eye on Daniel," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo.
"But if you are happy in a relationship, you don't need to flirt with another woman.
"If in May or June we were unhappy with Valtteri, we would have continued the conversations," Wolff added. "But because Valtteri was doing well at that point of the season, we did not want to waste Daniel's time."
Bottas, though, was re-signed on a one-year contract only, with reserve driver Esteban Ocon now eyeing that seat for 2019.
"Valtteri is super safe for 2019," Wolff said, "but he knows what he has to do."