Andrew Shovlin has described Valtteri Bottas as looking like "the man" in the opening exchanges in Qatar after topping the Friday timesheets but the team is still shy of making Lewis Hamilton "happy".
Bottas has enjoyed a significant uptick in form since confirming his move away from Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo in 2022.
By winning the sprint last time out in Brazil, the Finn secured his third pole position from the last four races whilst also claiming a dominant victory in Turkey.
After the Finn ended Friday fastest in Qatar, trackside engineering director Shovlin told Sky Sports F1: “Today, Valtteri looked like the man out there.
"He was quick on the single lap, very good on a long run and if the car is working well then we’ll get the car working well with Lewis [Hamilton].
“For us, it has been an encouraging Friday from that point of view and with a new track, you don’t really know what you’re going to expect. So that is looking good."
Pierre Gasly was second for AlphaTauri with Max Verstappen third although 0.350secs back from Bottas.
Hamilton ended Friday fourth, 0.422s down, but Shovlin remained confident the team can find answers for the seven-time champion ahead of qualifying.
“There’s a bit of work to get Lewis happy and then Red Bull, they will have their own problems that they will be working on overnight," Shovlin added.
“So we’ve got to make sure that whatever advantage we’ve got, we can keep it.”