Australian rookie Oscar Piastri may not have a fast pace, but he has shown he has the skills to make a name for himself on the F1 circuit, narrowly avoiding a high-speed crash on his first official race weekend as a Formula One driver. -1.
Piastri finished 12th and 15th out of 20 drivers in the first two practices in his first official McLaren run as the 2023 season kicked off with a surprise resurrection of former world champion Fernando Alonso in an Aston Martin.
But it wasn’t the watch that got people talking about Piastri, it was his high-speed maneuver to avoid what could have been a horrific crash at the second practice session that proved to the world that this Melbourne lad has what it takes to drive. . .
Drag racing down the main straight alongside Yuki Tsunoda in the Alpha Tauri, Piastri was caught off guard when Canadian Lance Stroll appeared in the middle of the track after exiting the pit lane in his Aston Martin.
With lightning-fast reflexes, Piastri not only avoided a direct collision with Stroll from behind, his late braking and locking into a tight right also meant he didn’t collide with anyone or go off the track.
Unfortunately for Piastri, he fled shortly after due to a flat spot caused by a previous evasion, but on a day when teams and drivers are still doing various tests and strategies ahead of the first race of the year, seeing McLaren’s rookie skills at this point. indicate that he’s ready for the big stage.
Piastri said he’s happy with his first day in F1 and while McLaren has a lot of catching up to do with other teams, they know it’s a good start for a driver who hasn’t driven in over a year since last. Contract drama of the season with Alpine when he was their reserve driver.
“I feel like I’m making progress, which is good,” Piastri said.
“There are some improvements to be found, but I feel like I am getting there. I still make a few mistakes here and there, so I’m not 100 percent happy with my driving, but I feel like we’re in a reasonable place.
“We will see where we need to be tomorrow, but so far so good. I enjoyed my first official Friday as a Formula 1 driver.”
Two-time world champion Max Verstappen admitted that Red Bull “still have a lot of work to do” to catch up with Alonso after the Aston Martin driver beat him in Friday’s second practice session.
The 25-year-old Dutchman finished second behind the 41-year-old Spaniard ahead of teammate Sergio Pérez, who was fastest in the previous first practice session.
“They are fast,” Verstappen said when asked about Aston Martin’s speed.
“But you could see it in tests when they were competitive. They had a great day and we have work to do.
“We know we have a very competitive package, but it’s about putting all the pieces together.” Verstappen added that he and the team had a tough day.
“The first practice was very bad. I just couldn’t strike a balance, which was a little weird because when we were testing, whatever we tried, we weren’t that far away, so we need to understand something.
“Even in the second practice it was difficult, but I think in the short distance it was not so bad, and the car felt more connected. I just need to find my rhythm again.
“If I feel happy in the car again and I can, then we’ll be very fast, but make sure the car doesn’t fall out of the window in the long run.” Verstappen never won the opening race of the season, nor did he win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
RUSSIAN DRIVER IS ALLOWED FOR RETURN
Formula 1 is back for the new season and it looks very different in 2023.
Daniel Ricciardo is not among the 20 drivers starting this weekend, but Australia is represented by a debutant rookie. Oscar Piastri, who replaced his compatriot at McLaren.
Lifting the curtain in Bahrain, Russian ex-F1 driver Nikita Mazepin has been cleared to return to motorsport in Europe a year after his career was halted by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mazepin, 23, competed in the World Championship for the Haas team, which was financed by Uralkali, owned by his father Dmitry.
Both his contract and the team’s title sponsorship were terminated with the start of the war.
On Thursday, the General Court of the European Union lifted some sanctions against Nikita Mazepin, allowing him to travel and try to revive his career on the continent.
The EU sanctioned him because his father’s company was “engaged in sectors of the economy that represent a significant source of income” for Russia.
The order still bans Mazepin from playing for a team linked to either his father or anyone already under EU sanctions.
“In the event of enrollment” in Formula 1 or another motorsport taking place in Europe, Nikita Mazepin “must undertake to race under a neutral flag and sign the obligation of riders required by the International Automobile Federation for this.” says in the statement.
Mazepin, who recently raced in Asia, welcomed the EU body’s decision.
“I am very pleased with this decision, which gives me hope to resume my professional career in international motor racing,” he said.
“I will do my best to catch up and look forward to returning to the sport that I love and dedicated my life to.”
His legal team said the order was a “rare” decision. The General Court ruled that Mazepin “is in no way involved in the aggression from which Ukraine has suffered, and does not carry out any activity in sectors of the economy that provide a significant source of income” for Russia.
“He has always maintained a neutral position regarding the war as a professional athlete,” the order says.
“He only asks to be given the opportunity to continue his career… without the financial support of his father.” In explaining its decision, the court said the European Council had not “produced convincing evidence” showing that the former Haas driver “should be seen as still connected to his father.”
Mazepin endured a tough single season in F1, finishing the 2021 season in 21st place with no points.
Originally published as F1 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix: Follow all practice and qualifying results