McLaren impressed with Piastri on F1 debut
By Mat Coch
Sunday 5th March, 2023 - 4:00pm
Oscar Piastri may have been disappointed by his performance in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix but his McLaren boss Andrea Stella saw the positives.
The Australian logged the 18th best time on Saturday evening though was frustrated after what was a scrappy lap at the end of Qualifying 1.
Piastri had been caught out by an early red flag, McLaren leaving him on the scrubbed soft tyres for his maiden run.
The final moments were therefore a step into the unknown for the debutant who’d not sampled fresh soft tyres on a push lap.
He subsequently had a moment early on his final flying lap, dropping time he was never able to recover.
But while the result was not what Piastri had hoped for, Stella looked beyond the rookie driver’s errors and liked what he saw.
“Impressive,” the McLaren boss said when asked by Speedcafe.com for an assessment of Piastri’s maiden qualifying session.
“He lost two or three tenths there,” he added of the 21-year-old’s early moment, “but otherwise it was not too far off Lando, which is obviously a very strong reference in Formula 1.
“I’m impressed with the speed but I’m also impressed with the approach.
“He’s gone really step by step, staying always very calm, very aware of his points of strength, and to some extent limitations associated with being a rookie.
“It’s just a shame that this is not reflected in the classification but actually I think Oscar has done very well so far.”
Piastri was hard on himself for the mistakes on his best qualifying run, an attitude viewed as a positive by those within the team.
“Just too many mistakes,” the Melburnian said.
“I think the corners that I executed well were good and there was a fair few corners where I made too many mistakes.
“Turn 2 I made quite a big mistake and got a big snap. Just too many mistakes.”
Encouragingly, McLaren looks to be in the midfield battle.
There had been concerns the Woking squad would be languishing down the wrong end of the timesheets, and while it isn’t where it wants to be, the situation isn’t as dire as some many predicted.
The Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway at 18:00 local time on Sunday (02:00 AEDT Monday).
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