Oscar Piastri's horror F1 debut as Max Verstappen wins Bahrain Grand Prix

The Aussie driver endured a nightmare in his first race in Formula One and was forced to retire.

Oscar Piastri, pictured here being forced to retire before Max Verstappen won the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri was forced to retire before Max Verstappen won the Bahrain Grand Prix. Image: Getty/F1

Oscar Piastri has endured a nightmare debut in Formula One after the Aussie young gun became the first retirement of the new season at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Double world champion Max Verstappen continued his impressive form to win the Grand Prix on Sunday, but there was nothing to smile about for Piastri.

The Aussie driver's first race in F1 ended after just 14 laps after he became stuck in the McLaren garage. The 21-year-old was left shaking his head in frustration after his struggling McLaren was left stricken by an electronics problem.

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Piastri, who started the race in 18th place on the grid and moved up a couple of places early, had complained over the team radio of gearbox problems. He was told that mechanics would swap his steering wheel as soon as he pitted, but when he came in the stop dragged on and it became clear the problem couldn't be solved.

The Melbourne-born driver became the first retirement of the 2023 season - a miserable introduction to Formula One after he replaced compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. Piastri has been touted for great things in F1 after a dazzling career in the F2 and F3 ranks.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports: "Looks like he 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."

Piastri later wrote on Twitter: "Amazing to make my F1 debut - a childhood dream turned reality. Not the end we wanted. Gave it my all and was pretty reasonable race up to that point. Will be working hard with the team."

Oscar Piastri, pictured here during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Oscar Piastri looks on during the Bahrain Grand Prix. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images) (Formula 1 via Getty Images)

It was a horror day for McLaren, with Piastri's teammate Lando Norris also having a dreadful afternoon. Brown reported that Norris' car had been suffering from "a pneumatic issue", which prompted two early pit stops and led to the British driver eventually finishing last of the 17 drivers who completed the race. "It's a challenging start to the year," sighed Brown.

F1 fans and commentators expressed their frustration for Piastri, with many making mention of Ricciardo and his brutal axing from McLaren last year.

Max Verstappen wins Bahrain Grand Prix

On the other end of the spectrum, Verstappen and Red Bull made the best-possible start to the season with a dominant 1-2 finish, while Fernando Alonso finished on the podium on his Aston Martin debut. Sergio Perez finished runner-up to Verstappen - a distant 11.9 seconds behind his double world champion teammate - as Red Bull celebrated their 10th win in the last 12 races stretching back to July 2022.

"Very lovely that, really good result. We had good race pace," Verstappen told the team after the race. "Very happy with that. Thank you guys.

"That's exactly the start to the season we wanted and needed. A perfect one-two".

Verstappen cruised to victory from pole position, marking the first time he had won in Bahrain and the first time he'd triumphed in a Formula One opener. Alonso passed Carlos Sainz with a thrilling wheel-to-wheel move 12 laps from the end.

"This is a lovely car to drive," the 41-year-old Spaniard said after his 356th career race. "To come here and finish on the podium in the first race of the year, it is amazing what Aston Martin did over the winter to have the second best car on race one. This is just unreal."

Lewis Hamilton was fifth for Mercedes, while Canadian driver Lance Stroll gave Aston Martin a bumper points haul by finishing sixth. Ferrari were left licking their wounds after Charles Leclerc was sidelined by a loss of power while running in third place, before Sainz was overtaken by Alonso.

with AAP

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