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‘Positive’ Piastri believes McLaren are in the mix while Norris rues ‘messy’ practice day

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren prepares to drive in the

The McLaren drivers cut contrasting figures in Bahrain after the opening two practice sessions, with an obvious spring in Oscar Piastri’s step while his team mate Lando Norris seemed slightly more downbeat. That was respective of their days, with the Aussie winding up solidly in the top 10 in FP2 while Norris propped up the field in P20.

Those placing don't tell the full story of the team’s day however, with McLaren the only top team to run the soft tyres in the unrepresentative FP1 session, with both drivers finishing in the top three. That left them with just one set for the evening, and when Norris made a mistake on his flying lap, he was unable to set a representative time as a result.

FP2: Hamilton fastest from Russell as Mercedes set the pace in second practice in Bahrain

“Not my best day, a bit messy from my part, just didn’t put everything together at all times but hopefully I got that out of the way and can do a better job tomorrow,” said Norris.

“So, a good day for us, we tried some things, and we progressed with understanding the car a bit more so yeah progress made, but plenty of things to try and improve on tomorrow.”

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‘We’ll see how many sandbags come out tomorrow’ – Piastri wary of Red Bull after day 1 in Bahrain

Piastri wound up fifth overall under the lights in a very decent showing, especially considering how tricky conditions were, with unusually cool temperatures combining with gusty winds to wreck havoc with balance settings.

“In FP2 [the car] felt good, both in those qualifying style runs and those race runs,” said Piastri. “I think we are in a decent place. I think we are more or less where we thought. There are some runs we need to look at in more details as to why they were how they were, both good and bad. But I think the overall feeling of the day was pretty positive.”

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As for where McLaren are in the pecking order, neither driver would be fully drawn although Piastri pointed out that with such small margins separating the top 10, there’s nothing in it between fighting for a podium and fighting to stay in the points.

“I think we are kind of in the mix, Red Bull don’t look quite as quick as we thought, we’ll see how many sandbags come out tomorrow,” continued Piastri. “It’s a lot closer than I expected, Mercedes look quick, Fernando looks quick so yeah, always a bit hard to judge on a Friday but I think we are around the points.”

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 29: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38

Norris was quick in the afternoon session - but made a mistake under the lights

“I think it’s still clear that Red Bull are towards the top, Ferrari and close and Mercedes were always the question mark,” added Norris. “They were never going to be bad. It always gets closer especially in qualifying, even the Haas is up there and they apparently didn’t change the car at all! It’s always close in qualifying here in Bahrain so I think it’s going to be a tricky qualifying no matter what.”

Just over half a second separated the top seven in the end in FP2, which included an incredible six different teams. Both McLaren drivers know the size of the task ahead to grab good qualifying slots tomorrow – with Norris clear as to what the team need to do.

“Whatever we can get out of the car we need to get out,” he said, before disappearing back to the McLaren garage to get to work.

WATCH: Ride onboard with Hamilton as he sets the fastest lap of Thursday in Bahrain

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Day 1 in Bahrain ‘messy… but better than I was expecting’ – Norris

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