Toro Rosso are in a better position now that Max Verstappen has moved to Red Bull, according to former team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen was promoted from Red Bull's sister team after four races of the season, controversially replacing Daniil Kvyat who moved in the opposite direction.
The Dutchman's victory in his opening race in Barcelona seemed to validate the decision and he has collected another three podiums to help Red Bull climb into second place in the constructors' championship.
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have only claimed eight points finishes between Kvyat and Sainz, but the former is adamant the team is stronger now than it was at the start of the 2016 campaign.
"On the team dynamic, maybe everything is a bit more open, everyone started working a bit more together, maybe started working in more of a team," he told Autosport.
"The separation was there but it is normal that it was there when you have two strong team-mates."
Sainz's performances in his second F1 season have pleased Toro Rosso boss James Key, who believes the Spaniard is starting to show his potential.
"People in the team have huge respect for what he has done, even though it has been slightly under the radar for reasons we know," said Key.
"But that reason has moved on now and that allowed him to perhaps be slightly less distracted by beating his team-mate and more on beating the other guys on the track.
"He has been very focused recently, he's matured a lot this year and he's gained a lot of confidence in himself, so his approach to race weekends is more relaxed.
"It is a bit more like a guy who has been doing it for a long time rather than a rookie who wants to prove himself. He's come a long way."