Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur commended F1 rookie Guanyu Zhou after last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, emphasizing the "fantastic" job done by the Chinese driver in Montreal.
For the second time this season, Zhou concluded his race in the points, the 23-year-old clocking in P8, just one spot behind his Alfa teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The performance capped a strong weekend that had seen Zhou make the Saturday qualifying shootout for the very first time of the season.
"It was a very good weekend, a great race today," Vasseur said on the F1 Nation podcast.
"More than pleased for the team and more than pleased for Zhou because he did a fantastic race. Scoring good points and I think this will be a step up into improvement for him and the team."
China's first F1 driver had scored a tenth-place finish on his debut in Bahrain back in March and finished just outside the points in Jeddah and Melbourne. But thereafter , Zhou suffered reliability issues with three retirements in five races.
Looking past his driver's misfortune, Vasseur believes that Zhou's development as an F1 driver is following its very positively.
"From the beginning of the season, I think he made immediate step by step improvements," commented Vasseur.
"We put the first target to do some Q2 and he did it on the first one. And he was always really strong in the races that a couple of times he was able to score points.
"There was an issue on the reliability side, but overall I'm more than pleased for him because he is always positive, always very team oriented, focused on the job and pushing for the team, and I think it's a great achievement for him."
Overall, Vasseur was impressed with Zhou’s last three outings which involved a few high-risk venues for the rookie.
"I was a bit scared with the sequence with Monaco, Baku, Montreal, because it’s the three most difficult tracks for a rookie on the first part of the season.
"But in Baku he did very well. He was a bit unlucky in quali because he didn’t do a proper lap with the yellow flag. But at the end, the performance was there into the race. He always did a very good management of the car and tyre management."
Last month in Monaco, Vasseur reminded the media that ahaed of the start of the 2022 season many of its members had called into question Zhou's merits, insisting the young Chinese driver owed his presence among motorsport's elite to the funding he is bringing to the Alfa team.
"He is at the level that nobody expected before... he’s doing very strong races, very consistent, he’s doing a strong job on the tyre management and the performance is there," said Vasseur.
"I remember perfectly the comments -- very harsh, stupid and bad comments -- when he signed last year and I think that when he was fighting with Ricciardo, Lewis or Russell that he was able to show to everybody that they were stupid."