The Williams team have been experiencing something of a revival under their new team boss James Vowles. Having finished the 2022 Formula One season last, the efforts of Alex Albon have seen the Grove based team score 21 points with six races to go – and they sit comfortably at the head of the four teams trailing the midfield.
Albon sits in P13 in the driver’s championship and has scored more than double the points of many driver below him yet the Williams charge in recent Grand Prix may be coming to a swift stop due to their second driver Logan Sargeant.
Sargeant ‘decent’ junior racer
Sargent was recruited by the previous team principal just prior to him announcing his departure from Williams and has proven to be the worst rookie of the year.
The American driver has crashed out of a number of sessions this year and his latest two shunts in Japan have resulted in a cumulative £3.2m bill for damage this year according to the Express.
Sergeant had a decent junior racing career and in Formula 3 he pushed Oscar Piastri all the way in the championship battle. He ended his F2 year in fourth but had accumulated enough super license points ti race in F1 and Williams promoted him to replace Canadian Nicholas Latiffi.
German publication AMuS now reports that Williams have no spare parts for the remainder of the year in part due to Sergeants repeated incidents.
Williams now reusing old parts
“We are now using parts that have already been manufactured,” reveals Dave Robson the team’s performance director.
“That may mean we have to use old specifications for one part or another.”
This of course is bad news for Alex Albon who has found himself in Q3 and scoring points since the summer break. However, the run of flyaway races coming up are also part of the issue Williams is facing.
“The logistics and freight of how we get spare parts to the individual race tracks on this overseas tour is also more difficult,” says Robson.
Production capabilities 20 yrs old
However the parts shortage is not merely the fault of Sargeant reveals boss James Vowles.
“Our production facilities are at the same level as they were 20 years ago,” he said. “We currently only have two autoclaves running for carbon fibre parts.
There is no more capacity in the production facility back at Grove to solve the crisis and Vowles admits while there are other solutions they jeopardise the 2024 project.
“To refresh the inventory of parts to the latest specification, we would have to outsource orders. That takes time and three times as much money,” Vowles explained.
“I want that, but it’s better to put money into the cars for 2024 and 2025.”
Sargeant ‘making progress’
Following Sargeant’s crash in Japan qualifying the Williams team faced a chassis rebuild but had to use a spare chassis which is not allowed this saw Sargeant forced to start from the pit lane with a 10 second penalty for using a third car.
During the race Logan hit the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas going into the hairpin and the resulting damage forced both drivers to retire from the Japanese Grand Prix.
Dave Roberts sought to head off the inevitable criticism from the media and suggested Sargeant’s crashes are in fact covering up his pace improvements.
“I guess inevitably, they catch the headlines, don’t they?,” Robson replied when asked by Motorsport.com about Sargeant’s crashes.
“I think it has kind of masked his steady performance and this weekend was actually going really well.
Vowles defends Williams rookie
Team boss James Vowles has defended his rookie driver throughout the year claiming, “Logan deserves this,” when questioned whether the American would see out the season.
“It’s his first year in Formula 1. Others had two years and had accidents in the second season too. Formula 1 is a difficult business for rookies,” added Vowles.
“They can hardly prepare for it and have to learn on the front line.”
Of course the ‘others’ Vowles refers to in particular refers to another driver who cost his team a fortune due to crashes – Mick Schumacher.
Schumacher in same mould
Haas team boss Gunther Steiner was scathing about his driver’s errors writing about a huge smash Schumacher had in Monaco.
“It happened on the fucking in-lap!”
“On the in-lap! Sure, it was very wet out there on the track, but nobody else managed to write off a car while they were driving back to the pits.”
The Monaco incident is believed to have been the final straw for Steiner and despite Mick scoring points twice later in the season he was dropped for 2023.
Sargeant to be dropped
“It’s just fucking ridiculous. How many people could we employ with $700,000? And I have to now find that money,” Steiner concluded.
It would seem The Express’ report’s estimate of the damage done by Sargeant may be on the light side but to be fair to Vowles and his team they have not resorted to publicly lambasting their driver as did Haas last year.
Its almost certain that the Floridian will be dropped by Williams for 2023 but the new super rookie on the block, Liam Lawson, has ruled himself out of taking the role as he wants to “concentrate” on his Red Bull duties which include being their reserve driver.
“Rift between Mercedes drivers” reported
Back in the heady summer of 2021 when Lewis was clawing his way back into the title fight with Max Verstappen that would ultimately go down to the wire, the last round of talks with Mercedes were ongoing to extend Hamilton’s contract.
Lewis went public explaining how he preferred a different team mate to George Russell and the latest row between the two from Japan is “irretrievable” according to one F1 manager.
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