“No one understood what it was”: America’s new star on his “lonely” path to F1

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Formula 1 continues to boom in the United States of America, with record numbers following the sport and attending the races. This year’s schedule boasts three US rounds with the addition of a race on a new street circuit in Las Vegas this November.

Is this new audience here to stay? Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone tried in vain for years to win over an American audience, but after various attempts it failed to pick up much popularly beyond a dedicated hardcore fanbase. Only once American-based film Liberty Media took control has F1 really boomed in the USA.

The sport’s stateside growth can only be helped by a new addition to the grid this year. One man will shoulder the nation’s expectation, ending America’s 16-year wait for a full-time grand prix driver.

The Williams racer Logan Sargeant has always dreamed of being in Formula 1 rather than America’s own NASCAR and IndyCar series. He swapped sunny Florida for the UK before he even hit his teens to pursue his dream.

Sargeant won twice in Formula 2 last year and was top rookie
Speaking to media including RaceFans at Williams’ season launch event last week, Sargeant explained why he left the US behind when starting his journey to F1.

“It got to the point where we had to make the decision, and it was early. We were just looking for where the best competition was, and it was always Europe, Europe, Europe. That was all you heard and that was where you have to be if you want to go against the best.

“Originally, I moved to Europe when I was 12 to start on the European karting scene. I did move with my family initially. They lived with me for the first couple of years in Europe, and I lived in the school for a year, which was an experience, but pretty cool.”

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Sargeant has been based in London since then. His family “still come over every once in a while to visit me and to check in on how I’m doing” but admits “it was difficult at times, a bit lonely, but it was obviously worth it in the end.”

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2022
Practice appearances for Williams added superlicence points
Now 22, after picking up a handful of wins in Formula 2 last season and finishing fourth in the standings, Sargeant embarks on a new journey, replacing Nicholas Latifi as Alexander Albon’s team mate.

Sargeant’s pursuit of his F1 driver dream was met with incomprehension from some back home, when F1 was still struggling to gain traction in America. A few years on however, the story is completely different.

“I don’t think back in the day anyone really cared or understood what it was,” he recalls. “It’s funny, people text me now and be like ‘hey, I realise how big of a thing this could eventually be or how big F1 really was’.

“It’s a completely different world now in terms of America. Everyone knows what Formula 1 is now over there. It’s nice to see the transition and hopefully it keeps growing.”

However he admits he was always realistic about his chances of reaching F1. “The only motivation towards moving over here was to race against the best and see where that led,” he said.

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“I don’t think it was necessarily completely focused on Formula 1. There are so many great racing series out there. Obviously, you want to race to be a driver professionally, but this was the peak that we were going for.”

Jost Capito, Williams CEO, Suzuka, 2022
Former team boss Capito was a “massive supporter” of Sargeant
He joined Williams’ driver academy in October 2021 and was the last driver to claim a place on the grid for the 2023 F1 season. Sargeant had to wait until the final F2 weekend to reach the full 40 points needed to gain his superlicence in order to race in F1.

However, he makes his debut with a team currently in a state of flux. Williams made big changes during the off-season, replacing team principal Jost Capito with James Vowles, who until then was Mercedes’ head of strategy. Sargeant reflected he has lost “a massive supporter of mine” following Capito’s exit.

“He gave me the opportunity to race in Formula 2, he give me the opportunity to race in Formula 1. He was a great person to work with.

“But ultimately he came back to this job after he’d already retired. So obviously it was a big ask for him to do these long seasons.”

Vowles was an integral puzzle piece in Mercedes’ dominance from 2014, helped the team to eight constructors’ championship titles and oversaw George Russell’s promotion to the team last year. Sargeant hopes he can turn things around at Williams.

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“To have James coming in is another special opportunity because he’s worked with young drivers at Mercedes. So I’m hoping I can learn from him and be a great team leader and help push this team to move forward with the experience he has for Mercedes.

Sargeant is aiming for a ‘quick and easy transition’
“Obviously he has a winning history and hopefully can implement that here and give us a great chance of moving forward.”

Sargeant will be alongside Alexander Albon, who is going into his fourth season as an F1 driver. He experienced his own tricky journey to F1, suffering setbacks in the junior categories then being dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020 in his second season in the world championship.

Albon got a second bite of the F1 cherry last year, however, and has cemented his place in Williams’ line-up. While Sergeant is ready to learn from his team mate, he made it clear he won’t be afraid to forge his own path.

“I think at the end of the day, I have to trust myself,” he said. “I have to trust my instincts and what I feel. If we feel like we’re heading in different directions, in terms of just the way the car is set up, then that’s maybe how it has to go. But hopefully, it all feels the same and we can move in the general same direction.

“I plan to not rely on him too much, and I feel like I have to stand for myself and go through the hard times and the good times and experience all the different things. Ultimately, that’s what’s going to make you better.

“I want to make this transition as quick and easy as possible, but I know there’s going to be challenges but hopefully, we can get on top of it quick.”

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Author information

Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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4 comments on ““No one understood what it was”: America’s new star on his “lonely” path to F1”

  1. Coventry Climax
    12th February 2023, 19:04

    He’s not the first one to walk the path. If it’s something you really want, you’ll take the pain that comes with it.
    Some succeed(ed), some even massively (Senna), and some fail. We’ll see in which category he ends up.
    I think he did quite well in the previous classes, but we’ll see.

  2. At least he speaks english. It is way harder for those from south america or asia

  3. Mark in Florida
    12th February 2023, 22:30

    He may not get much of a chance to race in the end. Unless he comes with big sponsor dollars or somehow drags that Williams up the order by some miracle. He won’t last driving there. The car won’t be anything but a back marker at best, so how can you be your best when you will drive the worst?
    You have to be in a great car in a great team to show your talent. Glad that he’s getting a chance but the only way an American can get a chance at racing is if it’s an American team. Haas is not an American team. They happen to be owned by an American. They only promote self interest not a country.

  4. I would love for him to actually be able to race to get into Q3 on saturdays and for points on sunday on a somewhat regular frequency. I hope Williams will be able to really make good on the promise of changing management and owners meaning a upturn in their favors.

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