Antonio Giovinazzi is positive that Alfa Romeo is finally starting to make up ground on the other teams in the midfield.
The Italian team has struggled to find form in 2020 and has scored points in only two races, with Giovinazzi finishing in ninth in the opening race of the season in Austria and team mate Kimi Raikkonen doing the same at Mugello.
Giovinazzi missed out on adding to Alfa Romeo's points tally last weekend in Sochi when it was pipped to a top ten finish by Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.
But he insisted that his performance in the race showed that the squad was finally closing the gap to the teams ahead of it on the grid.
"It was a positive race," said the 26-year-old. "We achieved the maximum we could, especially starting from 17th.
"The start was really good, we once again made up a good few places, and I felt I could push and fight the cars around me.
"I was happy with our pace and for sure we closed the gap a bit more, so we need to continue like this.
"Still I think if we want to fight with AlphaTauri it’s still not as good as I want," he admitted.
"It's always frustrating to finish just one place outside the points, but I am still happy with the result and with the confidence it gives us going forward."
Despite missing out on the points, Giovinazzi still managed to cross the line ahead of the likes of Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Lando Norris and Romain Grosjean.
He was also three places higher than his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, despite the Finn sounding relatively happy with the performance of the C39 in the Russian Grand Prix.
"The car was behaving well and we had good speed, but Sochi is a difficult place to pass and we couldn't climb up into the points," said the veteran driver who equalled the all-time record for Grand Prix starts on Sunday.
"Considering where we started the race, we probably got all we could from the race: even the slow stop didn't change the end result too much," he said.
"Antonio in P11 was just a few seconds ahead of me and I could have probably been around there, but in the end P10 was too far ahead.
"It’s obviously disappointing but we did all we could," he added. "We showed we have speed during the race and that's a positive for the next rounds."
Team principal Frédéric Vasseur agreed that the Alfa had shown "good speed" in Sochi: "Both cars made considerable progress from our grid positions, so we can say that we got as much as we could out of the race.
"To make up ground and leave behind several of our rivals shows we have found the performance we lacked earlier in the season.
"We need to keep moving in this direction to continue closing the gap within the midfield and keep fighting for top ten finishes."