Piastri surprised by damage caused by 'really small' first lap hit

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Oscar Piastri says he was surprised that the almost indiscernible first lap contact he suffered at the start of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix caused enough damage that it required him to pit for a new front wing.

Piastri had enjoyed a positive qualifying session on Saturday, the Aussie making it to Q3 and lining up P8 on Sunday's grid.

But the benefit of his efforts the day before were entirely lost as soon as the first corner when his McLaren was squeezed on the exit by Pierre Gasly's Alpine.

"I think it was really just one of those lap one, turn one incidents," commented Piastri. "The contact felt really small so I was honestly quite surprised to have damage."

From dead last after the opening lap, the McLaren driver gained a few positions but remained among the lower tier runners, which included his teammate Lando Norris who had also pitted for a new front wing after one lap, having unfortunately hit a piece of debris from… Piastri's car!

The Aussie spent most of his evening just behind Norris but eventually gained the upper hand over his teammate and concluded his first complete Grand Prix 15th.

"The rest of the race I think was reasonable," he said. "Some good experience with learning how to use the battery at the end with the overtakes and stuff like that. Nice to see the end as well, but it’s a shame."

Asked if he would have been able to score a point or two had he been spared the first lap commotion, Piastri wasn't sure that his McLaren had the pace to carry him into the top-ten.

"I’m not sure how great our pace was anyways," he said. "I think doing 49 laps on the hards is never going to be great for your race pace but we’ll have to sit down and have a look at how it was."

It's been a dismal start to the season for McLaren, but team boss Andrea Stella said his outfit will 'take it on the chin' and press on.

"We’re racers, we take these things on the chin, and we will be even more determined to succeed when we get to Australia," said the Italian.

"Before we go to Melbourne, we know we have work to do to improve our car, and that will be our immediate focus."

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