The Williams team have a huge decision looming and it is who should replace Logan Sargeant for 2024. Whilst new team principal James Vowles has been hugely supportive of the American driver, the numbers do simply not add up.
Logan Sargeant was in fact William’s third choice of driver and was almost thrust upon them the dust settled around other moves during the end of the 2022 season driver market. As with George Russell previously, Mercedes wanted to place their reserve driver Nyck de Vries at Williams but Red Bull Racing snapped him up following the departure of Pierre Gasly to Alpine.
Sergeant not ready for F1
De Vries may now rue not following the progression offered by Mercedes’ as he would have been less in the spotlight and a longer term potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton whenever the Mercedes’ driver decides the team will not be able to offer him a world championship winning car.
De Vries has won a number of championships, whereas Logan sergeant was rushed out of F2 after just one season, mostly for non driving related reasons, and into F1 way too early.
“Logan was basically pulled out of F2, thrown into our F1 car and said ‘good luck, off you go, test at Bahrain for a day and a half and then we’ll see you on the other side’. And you could see sparks happening, is how I’d describe it,” James Vowles recently revealed.
Yet as Nyck de Vries will testify, whatever the imperfect route into a Formula One car it is results that matter and not excuses.
Logan third choice driver for Williams
Williams first choice of driver was Alpine’s junior Oscar Piastri. Alpine had decided to give Fernando Alonso a one year contract extension and place Piastri for a year with Williams. Of course all this blew up in the French owned team’s face when a frustrated Fernando decided a multi-year contract with Aston Martin gave him what he truly wanted.
The rest is history.
Not only is Sargeant the third choice driver for the Williams team but worse still the decision to recruit him was made by the previous team principal Jost Capito who quit during the F1 winter break.
Their new boss James Vowles evaluated Sargeant when at Mercedes for their junior programme.
No room in Mercedes junior academy
“He came to Mercedes as a sim evaluation [driver] and I was interested in looking at him because he had performance, especially when you go back to his Formula 3 performance in an average team [Charouz in 2021],” said Vowles.
At the time in Mercedes we had a good suite of drivers and Vowels admits, “so that was where my relationship with him ended.”
A team employing a rookie driver usually commits to a couple of seasons given the current transition form the junior formula is more difficult than ever before. With no current F1 car in season testing allowed and just two Friday practice sessions a year for junior drivers its incredibly tough for an F1 team to really know how a junior will perform when out of the sim and onto the hard reality of the track.
Yet Logan Sargeant is unlikely to get the second year merely because the team believe it is too early to know off he will make it. As with De Vries, there are circumstances that will determine his future on a much faster glide path than for a regular rookie driver like Tsunoda.
Sergeant ‘sparks’ but little else
James Vowles admits there have been moments or ‘sparks’ where he has seen the potential of his American driver.
“In Bahrain qualifying he was in the same millisecond as Lando [Norris], nearly through to Q2 the first time. In Saudi he made a mistake – but doing a lap time that was faster than Alex on a really technical track.
“There’s sparks that happened but it never came together as a complete package. It needed consistency. And that’s just someone that’s near the limit, but sometimes pushing up and sometimes just not knowing that limit is.”
With just two races left of the ‘familiar’ European circuit Sargent really has his work cut out before some very technical and unknown flyaway races.
European F1 season set as bench mark
Further, his relative performance to Alex Albon in the same machinery has been woeful and the worst of a string of F1 rookies in recent seasons.
There were signs of improvement in his race pace during the two races before the summer break but Williams will be questioning whether Logan can execute when given the opportunity.
James Vowles said earlier in the season that the run of European races was “where you’ll know whether the rookie is developing or not,” and as yet the answer to that question is no.
Had Haas F1 played all fairly with Mick Schumacher and given him proper notice he was leaving the team before the last weekend when the was eventually sacked, Williams may well have had a third option ahead of Sargeant and of course Schumacher is now available to them for next year.
Mick Schumacher waiting in the wings
Whilst Sargent ticks the boxes of being ‘an American’ and brings barrow loads of cash from his rich uncle, Williams currently have three teams behind them in the championships and are no longer an ‘also ran.’
If Logan Sargent had delivered even a third of Albon’s score to date, the Williams team would be now comfortably ahead of their nearest rivals.
Logan has to close the average starting place to less than the current five positions it is behind Alex Albon and he must deliver closer results to his team ate in the races. He averages a finishing slot of 4.5 positions behind his team mate.
While Mick Schumacher is no shoe in and there are still questions for many as to whether he is F1 grade material, it would seem not a difficult choice right now for Williams to ditch Sargeant and recruit Schumacher who may well give Alex Albon a better run for his money.
Standing atop the podium for the 25th and final time ❤️
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 21, 2023