MANAMA—Australian Oscar Piastri’s Formula One debut lasted 14 laps before his McLaren was wheeled into the garage with an electrical problem in Sunday’s Bahrain season-opener.
The 21-year-old had complained over the radio of gearbox problems and was told the mechanics would swap his steering wheel when he pitted.
The stop then dragged on, with the pit crew waiting as the seconds ticked by after the tyres were changed and nothing happened.
Piastri was the first retirement of what will be a record 23-race season.
“It was disappointing to have finished so soon. We were going quite well, got a decent start and made some good overtakes,” he said.
“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, who has replaced compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at the team, said he had still learned a lot from the experience.
“There are positives to take and the car seemed to have better pace in the race,” he said.
Teammate Lando Norris was the last of the finishers, in 17th place and two laps down on Red Bull’s race winner and reigning champion Max Verstappen.
His car had suffered a pneumatic pressure leak in the power unit that meant he had to pit every 10 laps to recharge the system.
“We had a few issues we had to manage, which really took us out of the race but we tried to stay in it for as long as possible, just in case there was a Safety Car or something,” he said.
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