McLaren’s Oscar Piastri endured a horror Formula 1 debut at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. The Australian young gun was forced to retire after just 14 laps when he pulled into the McLaren pits with an electrical issue.
Piastri started 18th on the grid and was looking good in the early stages of the race. The 21-year-old even gained three places, but couldn’t complete his first F1 Grand Prix due to engine failure.
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He was called into the pits on lap 15, with his team telling him they would have to change his steering wheel. But Piastri’s car failed to restart even after a steering wheel change.
After the race, McLaren CEO Zak Brown gave an initial assessment of why their new driver was forced to retire at the Bahrain International Circuit.
He said, “Looks like he has some sort of electrical issue, a gearbox-related issue on track, which I think was electronic related. We changed steering wheels but that doesn’t seem to have done the trick so we’ll have to diagnose what it is.”
McLaren’s problems didn’t end with Oscar Piastri’s car as Lando Norris suffered a major engine issue of his own (a pneumatic pressure leak in the power unit). The Brit finished 17th – last among those to finish the race – after pitting a remarkable six times in a desperate attempt to finish the race.
Oscar Piastri was making his highly-anticipated debut for McLaren, having replaced Daniel Ricciardo for the 2023 season. McLaren had finished in the fifth position on the Constructor Standings last year. After the Woking-based team brought in Piastri, fans had hoped that the Aussie will change the team’s fortunes. However, it now looks like McLaren will continue to struggle in 2023.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen cruised to victory after leading from start to finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman, who clinched his second consecutive world championship in October 2022, appears to be the overwhelming favourite to win the championship in 2023 as well.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez finished in second place behind his teammate and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso rolled back the years to finish third.
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