Fred Vasseur believes Zhou Guanyu quickly "shut up the mouths of a lot of people" who had suggested the Chinese driver had only been signed by Alfa Romeo for the money he could bring to the table.
Following his appointment before the start of the past season, Zhou immediately came under fire as it was suggested he was the latest in a long line of pay drivers.
Although it is not uncommon for rookies to bring substantial financial backing to a team, the feeling is the majority block more talented individuals from progressing.
But after scoring points on his F1 debut at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with a fine drive to finish 10th, Zhou proved he had ability.
Speaking to GPFans prior to his recent appointment as Ferrari team principal, former Alfa Romeo boss Vasseur said: "You know and I know where the criticism was coming from.
"Frustration is never a good guide but before making any bad comments about someone, you have to give him the chance to do the job.
"I was more than pleased for Zhou after Bahrain, race one, when after one-and-a-half days there, he was able to score points, to be in Q2 and it was a great achievement.
"I think that this shut up the mouths of a lot of people."
Additional reporting by Sam Hall