Alfa Romeo boss Frédéric Vasseur says that Antonio Giovinazzi no longer needs to look to his veteran team mate Kimi Raikkonen as a reference for how to go about his race weekend.
The 27-year-old Italian made his Formula 1 debut in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix for Sauber as a last minute stand-in for an unwell Pascal Wehrlein. He finally got a chance to race full-time in 2019 and is now taking part in his third season for the squad.
Having completed 45 races for Alfa, Giovinazzi delivered the team's first championship point of the current season by crossing the line in tenth place in Monaco, one ahead of Raikkonen.
Giovinazzi has also been consistently out-qualifying the former world champion, earning praise from Vasseur for being ready to step up and lead the team in the future.
"Probably one of the issues he had in the past was that he was too focused on Kimi as a reference, and he has to be focused on himself," the team boss said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com's Italian edition.
"It's not easy because very often the first reference is your teammate, and now he's taking his own position within the team - and this is also important for us.
"The big change he had over the last 12 months is that when he did this kind of move to say, 'Okay now let's be focused on myself, I am doing the job, I'm able to do the job, and if I am at 100 percent of my capacity I will do a decent job'.
"He clearly did a step in between the two seasons, but it was already like this in the second part of 2020.
"It's important for us to have the stability. As we said before I think that Antonio is growing up, he is improving," Vasseur insisted. "I think so, because the feedback from Antonio is quite solid.
"He is doing a good job," he added. "And most important is that we have 23 races, and if the pace is there we'll score points."
As for his own position with the team, Vasseur said he was committed to remaining long-term at Faenza.
"The thing I think is most important is to build something, and I think with Alfa Romeo Racing and [title sponsors] Orlen I have the chance to do that," he commented.
“The next 24 months will be crucial because we have the challenge of the new regulations and we have to renew the agreement with the sponsor.
"These are challenges, and if I can build something solid I don’t see any reason for me to change.”
"On the one hand, the number of Grands Prix is increasing, it’s becoming more and more tiring, but the real motivation comes from the passion for racing,
"As long as you have the passion, I think this is not a job, so I guess we will go on a little longer.”