Piastri learning curve rapid despite Bahrain ‘disruption’

Oscar Piastri endured a steep learning curve with McLaren in Bahrain

Oscar Piastri endured a rapid learning curve with McLaren in Bahrain

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella feels Oscar Piastri’s learning curve was rapid in Bahrain despite the “disruption” of his early race retirement.

As debut F1 weekends go, it was a tough baptism of fire for the 21-year-old who conceded to making mistakes en route to qualifying a lowly 18th before his maiden grand prix was terminated after just 13 laps by an electrical issue.

With team-mate Lando Norris suffering a pneumatic problem with his power unit that forced him to pit every 10 laps before retiring with two to run, the double DNF was a bitter blow for McLaren.

Stella at least attempted to draw the positives from a weekend largely to forget, in particularly feeling Melburnian Piastri made considerable strides over the course of the few days at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“There was certainly a bit of disruption,” said Stella. “But we did see that session after session Oscar was improving.

“The first stint he did in the race was by far the best long run he has done so far. He just keeps improving with every session he does.

“It would have been good to complete the first race to be even more ready for the second but we take the positive, the fact he seems to keep learning and learning very rapidly.”

Piastri comfort easing

After winning the F3 and F2 titles in consecutive years, Piastri was then forced to spend a year on the sidelines at Alpine which incorporated his now contentious switch to McLaren.

Although away from the sharp end of racing for such a sustained period of time, Piastri maintains that for his first 13 laps in F1, he felt no rustiness.

“I’d say I was pleasantly surprised,” reflected Piastri. “It came back pretty naturally.

“I think getting a good start, a good launch was a good confidence boost, and then I did my homework for the first lap.

“From my side, everything was going pretty well. Experiencing the dirty-air effect and following, managing the battery pack and stuff during a race are all boxes that I’ve now ticked off, or at least partially ticked off.”

Despite the lack of racing laps under his belt, Piastri insists he is confident for next weekend’s second race of the campaign in Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed fastest street track in the world.

“We seemed to be reasonably good in the high speed in Bahrain,” assessed Piastri. “I don’t know if that’s from our wing level or just that we’re strong in the high speed but we’ll see in Jeddah.

“It’s a track I’ve raced at before in F2. There are a few changes to some of the parts so it will be interesting to see what’s new.

“From my side, it was a positive week (in Bahrain) and I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable every time I jump in the car.”

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