Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur says the Swiss outfit's performance in Bahrain showed that it had reclaimed its spot in Formula 1's competitive midfield.
Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi finished just outside the top ten last weekend at Sakhir. But the pace of Alfa's C41 at F1's opening event confirmed the potential unveiled by the Hinwil team's machine in pre-season testing.
The performance has lifted Alfa Romeo's prospects after a dismal 2020 campaign in which it scored just eight points in 17 races.
"Tonight gave us a strong indication of the progress we have made in the last 12 months," said Vasseur after last weekend's race. "We raced with authority, leaving the Alpines and an Aston Martin behind us and finishing on the tail of the other Aston.
"Even though we leave Bahrain with no points, we do so having reclaimed our place in the midst of the midfield – and results will surely come soon.
"We demonstrated to be able to fight in and around the top ten and we can look with optimism to the rest of the season.
"It was an eventful race, even though the low attrition rate – just two retirements – meant we had our work cut out when aiming for a place in the points.
"We take a lot of positives, however, knowing we can go to the next race in Imola, in two weeks, ready to battle again for a place in the top 10."
Giovinazzi, who qualified 12th, two spots ahead of Raikkonen, concluded his evening in the same position, just behind the Iceman after losing time during a pitstop.
The Italian driver reckoned he had made the most of the opportunities that had come his way in Bahrain but confirmed Alfa's step forward since last season.
"I think today what we did was the maximum we could," he said. "AlphaTauri is still too fast for us, but we need to be happy because compared to last year we improved a lot.
"We are much closer to Alpine, to Aston Martin. So yeah, I think we can have more fun today."