Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski has been impressed by Fernando Alonso's professional approach to F1 but admitted to being particularly "blown away" by the Spaniard's race craft.
Alonso's return to the fray after a two-year break from F1 saw the seasoned racer struggle in the first part of the season, which wasn't a surprise for the two-time world champion who had warned that he would require several races to feel comfortable at the wheel of Alpine's 2021 car.
And indeed, from the sixth round of the season in Baku, the 40-year-old's performance improved, both in qualifying and in race trim.
As Alonso got up to speed, the 32-time Grand Prix winner's sharpness, perception and racing instinct came to the fore, much to the Alpine's team delight.
In Hungary, Alonso's valiant effort to keep Lewis Hamilton behind in the latter part of the race likely sealed teammate Esteban Ocon's shock win. Yet, Budkowski singled out the Spaniard's display in Silverstone's sprint race as a striking example of his outstanding race craft.
"I've worked with a number of drivers a bit more than 20 years in F1, and he is extremely impressive," commented Budkowski. "He's impressive in his approach, which is very, very professional.
"The other thing that blows me away is his race craft. And I think we've seen it in the [Silverstone] sprint race, we've seen it in Baku, they were great opportunities to see that.
"What Fernando did in Silverstone was effectively forming a DRS train behind him, because he wasn't afraid of [Lance] Stroll but he was afraid of [Pierre] Gasly and therefore he eliminated any possible attack from Gasly by putting him in Stroll's DRS.
"For me it's mind blowing almost because we're sat on the pit wall, we have all the data, we have full visibility on the race.
"He is in the car driving at full speed, and he has almost the same analysis of the race that we have on the pit wall with nowhere near as much data and an ability to take a step back.
"That's I think the thing that impresses me the most in Fernando. I guess it's 20 years of experience driving Formula 1 cars but not many drivers, even with 20 years' experience, will be capable of that."
As impressed as Budkowski has been with Alonso's skills, the Alpine executive is equally dazzled by the F1 veteran's unwavering motivation.
"You can see that he's enjoying it, he's happy to be back in Formula 1 but obviously he's ambitious, like our ambition is to do better than we're doing now," said Budkowski.
"That's what we're working hard on for next year and he's excited about that.
"If we give him a competitive car next year, I don't think he's going to go anywhere anytime soon, because he's going to want more and more of it."