Piastri says the gap to the front a “big positive” after he “struggled a lot” in F1 Bahrain GP qualifying

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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The first qualifying of the season took place today at the Bahrain International Circuit and overall, it came as no surprise to many as, as expected, Max Verstappen grabbed pole, followed by Leclerc and Russell.

However, there was a significant expectation on the McLarens, who took 7th and 8th place. This caught the attention of some, as the duo driving the MCL38 this season had been very happy with the practice results. Nonetheless, Lando Norris stated that Bahrain is not a very good circuit for the Woking-based team.

Oscar Piastri, who is entering his second season in F1, spoke about the qualifying sessions and commented that he was unhappy with the car having struggled with it throughout the day, adding that there are still issues to be addressed:  

“The first one [lap in Q3] was shocking. The second one was not too bad I felt. It’s been a tricky day to be honest. I just did not feel as comfortable in the car as yesterday.

So yeah, just struggles, more and more. Q1 and Q2 I really struggled a lot. Q3 I think it finally came together a bit more… but even still I didn’t feel perfectly happy. I think there are some things to look into why that was.”

Despite not getting the result he wanted, the Australian driver admitted to being happy because the gap between him and the cars in front is not much and he feels it is a good place to start the year:

“I think the positive thing is I’m 8th — that’s not the positive thing obviously — but the gap to the cars in front and a long way further up is very small, so for me that that’s a big positive.

I’m sure Lando has already said before me that Bahrain doesn’t suit us that well, but we will have to wait and see, it’s been a decent showing. I think with a few things going a little bit differently we really could have been in the fight. But we are there or thereabouts in the mix, which is a nice place to start the year.”

Afterwards, the 22-year-old was questioned about his race pace, and commented that, although he had a good pace in practice, it would not be the first time that this has not been the case on race day:

“Honestly in practice yesterday in the race runs that everyone did, we looked good. Of course that wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to us… and the race day has not been great.”

Piastri concluded by saying that once again, qualifying have proven that the gap between the cars is very small, especially the ones McLaren is fighting directly with, and added that he expects the performance to swing between these squads during the season:

“I think the biggest thing […] qualifiyng has proved it again — it’s so close between everyone — especially the teams we’re fighting Mercedes, Ferrari.

I don’t think Red Bull look quite as quick as we feared, I feel. I think it’s very close among all of us and yeah I’m expecting that to drop and change from circuit to circuit too.”

Ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, a good battle is expected between the top five teams on the grid, which of course includes McLaren.