Aussie new boy Piastri forced to retire in Bahrain GP
Oscar Piastri has suffered a wretched start to life in Formula One when his debut Bahrain Grand Prix ended after just 14 laps, with the young Australian still stuck in his car in the pit-lane shaking his head.
But the 21-year-old was later adopting a brave face on McLaren's opening-day debacle, adamant that there were still "positives to take" for a team seemingly going in the wrong direction after a dreadful three days.
Piastri himself cut a forlorn figure at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday after he and his stricken McLaren were left effectively paralysed in the pits by an electronics problem.
Melbourne's Piastri, who had started 18th of 20 drivers on the grid and had started reasonably well by moving up a couple of places early on with a couple of neat overtakes, had complained over the team radio of gearbox problems.
He'd been told the mechanics would swap his steering wheel as soon as he pitted, which should fix the problem, but when he came in, the stop dragged on agonisingly as it became clear it was too big a fix.
So, Piastri became the first driver to retire in the F1 season, a miserable baptism for the driver who has been touted for great things after a dazzling career in the F2 and F3 ranks.
"It was disappointing to have finished so soon. We were going quite well, got a decent start and made some good overtakes," Piastri told reporters.
"I thought up until the electrical problem, we were doing a good job.
"We hoped changing the steering wheel would fix it, but unfortunately it didn't."
Piastri, the only Australian on the grid after replacing compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, added: "There are positives to take and the car seemed to have better pace in the race (than in practice)," he said.
But it proved a double calamity for the British-based team, with Piastri's much more experienced teammate Lando Norris also finishing last of the 17 drivers after suffering mechanical problems throughout the race, some two laps behind Red Bull's race winner and reigning champion Max Verstappen.
Norris's car had suffered a pneumatic pressure leak in the power unit which forced the team to pit him every 10 laps to recharge the system.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports: "Looks like he (Norris) has some sort of electrical issue, a gearbox issue on track which was electronic-related.
"We changed steering wheels but it didn't seem to have done the trick, so we have to diagnose what it is."
"It's a challenging start to the year," sighed Brown.