Mattia Binotto believes Carlos Sainz is getting "faster and faster" following a weekend in which he showed pace superior to Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
Sainz has found himself playing catch-up against Leclerc during the early rounds of the season, with multiple retirements denting his World Championship hopes.
However, the Spaniard was fighting at the front during the Canadian Grand Prix while Leclerc struggled to cut through the field after taking an engine penalty.
"If you look at the race pace on Friday, Carlos was very strong," Binotto told media, including RacingNews365.com, as he claimed not to have been surprised to see Sainz lapping faster than Leclerc.
"We were very close to the Red Bull so we knew that he could fight. How close it would have been, we had no idea – but it was not such a surprise.
"Carlos is gaining confidence with the car. He's driving faster and faster and it's good to see that he was certainly as fast, if not slightly faster, than Max [Verstappen]."
Viewed by others:
Binotto admits qualifying cost Sainz first race win
Sainz was denied a first career win thanks to a faultless late-race display from Verstappen, says Binotto, with the Dutchman not putting a foot wrong as he defended following a late-race Safety Car.
But Verstappen's track position advantage was won on qualifying day, Sainz has been told, with a stunning pole position lap in drying conditions.
"I think to win such a close fight with Red Bull and Max, you need to be perfect the entire weekend," continued Binotto.
"If anything, maybe yesterday the qualifying was not perfect from Carlos and it cost him a bit. Being ahead and chasing is certainly different.
"Race by race, he's gaining his confidence and his driving is improving. He's more relaxed and I'm pretty sure he will improve in the next races now.
He added: "It's important for us, as a Scuderia, that we can count on him."
Video: The 10 most bizarre F1 cars of all time
RacingNews365.com looks back at some of the strangest and most unique Formula 1 car designs from over the decades.