Logan Sargeant was recruited into Formula One by Jost Capito the ex-Williams team principal who decided shortly after to resign his position. The role was filled by James Vowles who has since taken the team on leaps and bounds.
Often an incoming team principal benefits from the work done previously on the F1 car they inherit and so instant results under the new management are not necessarily attributable to the change in leadership.
Williams excel under new boss
Yet Williams in 2022 were plumb last in the constructor’s championship scoring just 8 points throughout the entire season. Vowles inherited the FW45 challenger for 2023 and its results out of the box were less than impressive.
Despite Alex Albon claiming tenth and a point at the season opener in Bahrain there was then a barren run until round 8 in Canada where the upgrades on the FW45 delivered the platform for Albon to take the chequered flag in 7th.
Since then Williams’ lead driver has scored on three other occasions and the Grove based F1 team now sit comfortably ahead of Haas, Alfa-Romeo and AphaTauri with 21 points.
Vowels encourages Logan Sargeant
Vowels too has been encouraging of the American rookie he inherited and in the last day told F1.com:
“Logan has very clear targets of what he has to hit before the end of the season, and we are working with him continuously. And that’s the important point, we are working with him. We want him to succeed, and we want him in the car next year.”
Yet the almost universal expectations in the paddock are that Sargeant will be ditched by Williams and the vocal support all season from Vowles is an attempt to keep the Floridian rookie’s head up.
Sargeant promoted quickly
Sargeant was initially signed by the Williams driver academy in 2022 and targeted two years in F2. However, the disappointing performances from Nicholas Latifi saw him promoted 12 months ahead of schedule as the Canadian was moved aside.
Logan has been out qualified at every race by Albon and his race record is not much better seeing hi finish ahead of his Thai team mate on just two occasions.
Capito believes he made the correct decision to promote Sargeant but questions whether he has been mentored in the right fashion.
Capito backs his protege
“Last year in Formula 2, but also the years before, he got stronger and stronger under pressure,” Capito told Motorsport-Total.com.
“He showed that pressure gives him wings, I have the impression that this is not the case at the moment.
“When the pressure is greater, he tends to make more mistakes. In qualifying on Saturday, he was on Alex Albon‘s time until the last corner, where he made the mistake. So in terms of speed, he’s getting better.”
The problem is that Sargeant has put his Williams in the wall more times than most can remember this season and a recent report suggested the cost to the team is approaching $5m.
Unfair criticism of Vowles approach
Williams are now out of upgraded spare parts for the rest of the season and may have to revert to components pre the upgrade to ensure they complete the remaining six races.
“It looks like the pressure makes him fast, that he can drive fast and set good times – but then still makes minor mistakes that then have a bigger cause and effect,” said Capito.
“I think if you really want to stand by him and keep him, then you have to take pressure off him and let him drive freely.”
Yet the suggestion that Sargeant has been shacked or publicly criticised by his new team boss – for his performance is nonsense. Mick Schumacher suffered the regular humiliation in 2022 of his team boss Steiner denouncing him publicly when he put the Haas car into the wall.
Sargeant behind Lawson in championship
“When you stand by him, you have to tell him: ‘Listen. Yes, you have to drive fast and you have to show the speed. But it’s not tragic and dramatic if something happens’,” adds Capito
“Of course, the cost cap is also an issue. But I believe that if you encourage a driver, he makes fewer mistakes and less breaks.”
The reality is the Logan Sargeant now 15 races in is behind Liam Lawson in the drivers’ championship despite the New Zealnder having completed in only four events.
Future doubtful for Logan
Further, Lawson was plucked from his racing in Super Formula and given the least competitive car of the year – an AlphaTauri – when he was called up as a last minute replacement for the injured Daniel Ricciardo in Zandvoort.
Williams options to replace Sargeant have been curtailed in recent weeks with Liam Lawson stating he will remain a Red Bull reserve driver for 2024 and Mick Schumacher – highly rated by Mercedes – off to race in another series.
This gives Logan Sargeant a grain of hope his stay in Formula One may be extended otherwise Williams will have to call on another rookie driver from the junior series who may prove to be o better than Sargeant in their first season.
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