Piastri ousted in Q1 in his first Grand Prix qualifying

Australia's Oscar Piastri has failed to get past the first stage of qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix in an underwhelming start to his Formula One career, blaming himself for making too many mistakes.

The 21-year-old from Melbourne will have to start from 18th of 20 on the grid in Sunday's race after his struggling British team McLaren were left contemplating their cars' lack of race pace.

Piastri's experienced teammate Lando Norris himself only just managed to be one of the 15 drivers to negotiate Q1 on Saturday and was then eliminated at the second stage, finishing 11th quickest overall.

In his first qualifying session, Piastri was timed at 1 minute 32.101 seconds for his fastest lap, which meant he failed to get through to Q2 by 0.409 sec.

"I made too many mistakes, especially on that second lap in Q1," he said, while suggesting that some debris on the track from the bodywork of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari, which triggered a red flag, hadn't helped his cause.

"Yeah, just too many mistakes on my side."

But Piastri remained optimistic about making up places in Sunday's race.

"I think we can try to make up some spots tomorrow, that will be the plan, definitely," he said.

"Our straight-line speed is probably not our strongest point. For me, it'll be a good opportunity to get back into the swing of racing. It'll be my first race for quite some time, so I'll make the most of it. I'm excited.

"I wish today had gone a bit better and a bit higher up but tomorrow's a new day."

Despite his disappointment, there were also words of encouragement from McLaren CEO Zak Brown about the young Victorian's performance.

After a good final practice run on Saturday in which he had finished ninth fastest and was quicker than Norris, there had been high hopes in the McLaren camp that the team's new boy might at least get beyond Q1.

But Brown was just happy that the debutant had come close to Norris's times.

"It's good - Oscar's got Lando's attention, which is exactly what we want, so he's doing a great job this weekend," said Brown.

"They'll push each other, which is what you want."

What McLaren didn't want, though, was to see other teams in F1's 'midfield' outpacing them, with Brown admitting the team has a lot of work ahead.

"That wasn't a great session for us," he conceded on Sky Sports. "Both our guys didn't have a good first sector.

"But we'll give it all we've got tomorrow and see if we can get our cars into the points."

Asked about whether the team could expect potential improvements soon, Brown added: "We've got stuff coming in a few races that will hopefully give us a lot more grip, which the drivers say we're lacking at the moment.

"We're still working on the rear of the car, so getting a little bit of the traction down seems to be our challenge."