Zhou Guanyu believes that Alfa Romeo can feel "quietly confident" about their future after a Japanese Grand Prix weekend in which he achieved his first-ever fastest lap.
The Chinese driver began the race from 14th on the grid before a red flag was shown following a chaotic start in heavily wet conditions.
Two hours later, the Grand Prix resumed for a shortened distance of 28 laps, but Zhou was unable to make up places and finished the event in P16.
Despite this, the 23-year-old was left feeling positive about his first trip to Suzuka.
Zhou reflects on debut race at Suzuka
"I have positives to take from the weekend, even though we didn't score," Zhou said after the race.
"It was nice to see that we can still be so close and have good pace; furthermore, it being my first time in Suzuka, I learned a lot over the weekend.
"Overall, it was a typical Sunday with weather changes and very low visibility. At the start, I suffered a spin at the hairpin, meaning I had to come back from the bottom.
"At the restart, there were only two ways to go: you either pitted on lap one to go on Inter[mediates], or you tried to stay out hoping for more rain.
"I was quite far behind and there was a lot of spray coming my way from the cars in front, so I felt like the best option was to stay out on the Wets."
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Upgrades looking "positive" for Alfa Romeo, says Zhou
Zhou admits that his gamble did not pay off. However, he was left feeling positive about his weekend, especially after setting the fastest lap of the race.
"We did [stay on the Wet tyre], and when we saw the Inters were clearly faster, I knew the gamble was lost," he explained.
"Still, we gave it a try, and I got to gain my first-ever fastest lap for that."
Furthermore, the F1 rookie is hopeful that the updates that Alfa Romeo brought to Suzuka have displayed signs of promise.
"We can be quietly confident for the future," Zhou added.
"The upgrades we introduced this weekend are looking positive, but we still need some more time to properly understand them."
Neither Zhou or teammate Valtteri Bottas scored points in Japan, but the team remain sixth in the Constructors' Championship with a seven-point advantage over nearest rivals Aston Martin.
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