Improving Piastri getting 'comfy' with F1 testing

Oscar Piastri has enjoyed a much better second day in his new life as a Formula One driver even while his struggling McLaren team admitted they're not hitting their pre-season testing targets.

The young Australian faces huge demands in his rookie season, saddled with the tag of being a prodigy and coming into the F1 circus off the back of his controversial and widely-aired contract dispute with former team Alpine last season.

The opening day of testing in Bahrain on Thursday had been a solid but pretty slow baptism for the 21-year-old as he finished last but one in the 18-strong timesheets, well down on the best laps set by his experienced British teammate Lando Norris.

But out in the afternoon on Friday's second day, Piastri, who clocked up a handy 74 laps, finished ninth quickest of the day's 17 starters, albeit 1.565 seconds down on Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu, who clocked 1:31.610 around the Bahrain International Circuit.

In contrast, Norris, who'd gone out in the morning, ended up as the penultimate driver on the timesheets on Friday after an underwhelming session.

Pre-season testing is, famously, not the most reliable guide to the season ahead as teams tinker, experiment and don't show their complete hand.

Yet asked about McLaren's sluggish display before Piastri went out in the second session, the team's CEO Zak Brown was surprisingly frank, saying he recognised there had been "teething problems" and "testing bugs" on the opening day.

"We know we set some goals for development which we didn't hit. We felt it was better to be honest about that," admitted the American.

"We, like everyone, have a lot of development coming so we are encouraged at what we see around the corner.

"But I think we will be going into the first race off of our projected targets and hard to really know where that means we'll be on the grid."

McLaren, who finished fifth overall last year, have been making downbeat noises about their chances but there was nothing but praise for the start of Piastri's senior career.

Brown said the 21-year-old, who has replaced his fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, was "settling in well" and added that everyone in the team had been impressed with him so far.

Piastri, who's having to get rid of the ring rust after a year in which he was Alpine's reserve, is doing an accomplished job in playing down all the hype surrounding him and reported: "There is still a lot to learn and improvements to make but I think I'm getting there.

"It was good to get some laps on the board and everything felt pretty comfy."

"Yeah, it's been great so far, settling in well. It's been good, everyone's been very welcoming, I'm getting to know the whole team better and better every day, and it's nice to be finally back to the racetrack driving."