Exclusive: Sargeant on why he must drive “on a knife’s edge” to earn a second season


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Imagine becoming a meme in F1 social media before even making your grand prix debut.

Ahead of his official debut as a grand prix driver had completed back in March, Logan Sargeant was already thrashing Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries in the race to be the most-memed rookie of 2023. The first full-time racer in the world championship from the United States for almost two decades, Sargeant was ruthlessly depicted on TikTok and Twitter as the stereotypical obnoxious American. Images of the 22-year-old were set to a heavily crunched version of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ complete with bald eagle screeches and a voice screaming “what the fuck is a kilometre!”.

Yet if you ever get to talk to Sargeant, you’ll immediately be struck by how the man himself is the exact antithesis of that image of America. He’s more shrinking violet than shrieking eagle. He takes time to think before he answers, picking each word with precision. Rather than standing out, he fits in among his peers like you’d expect any other driver to. Hardly surprising too, given how he sacrificed his life in Florida as a teenager to pursue his F1 dreams in Europe.

Unlike Conor Daly, Colton Herta, Josef Newgarden or many of the other supremely talented American single seater drivers who have chased a shot at Formula 1 in Europe, Sargeant has been the only one to achieve that goal. With 13 rounds of his rookie season behind him, RaceFans sat down with only the fourth F1 driver from the United States in the last 30 years to ask him what it’s like racing at the highest level.

Sargeant became the fourth US driver for 30 years in Bahrain
“It’s definitely tough,” Sargeant admits immediately. “I think it puts it in perspective when you’re up against 19 of the other best drivers – you know how fine the margins are.

“But it’s been amazing. I’ve enjoyed every time I got in the car. It’s definitely been special so far. I just want to try and do my best to close it out strong.”

After just missing out on the Formula 3 title in 2020 to fellow F1 rookie Piastri, Sargeant progressed into Formula 2 last year and ran as a member of the Williams driver academy. After a top four finish in the F2 championship in his first full season, Sargeant was handed four Friday practice runs in Williams’ F1 car at the end of the year and was announced to be joining the grid as a full-time driver for 2023.

But it’s not easy to be a rookie in Formula 1 – especially in these days of minimal testing. Track time is extremely limited for young drivers. Combining his Friday practice runs, a single day of running in the post-season test at Abu Dhabi, a filming day in the FW45 and then splitting three days of running with team mate Alexander Albon in the sole pre-season test in Bahrain, Sargeant had just over 2,700km under him when he headed out for first practice in round one.

In comparison, that’s 6,200 fewer kilometres of track time in an F1 car than Lewis Hamilton had before embarking on his historic rookie season in 2007.

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“You really get two-and-a-half days in the car before you go for it and only a day-and-a-half in the new car,” Sargeant explains. “So for sure it’s tough.

Into Q3 at Zandvoort, but two crashes ruined things
“I feel like there’s been times where I’ve been, I guess, catching up on missed experience, for sure. I only got a few test days in the off-season before coming into it, so I definitely lacked quite a lot of kilometres compared to some others who have come in. But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to get in and handle it I guess, because once you’re here, you can’t really think about what you’ve missed.

“I think it could be better if there was more testing, especially for rookies. I think it would make quite a significant difference, to be honest.”

Ready or not, Sargeant’s rookie season sees him at a Williams team on track for their best championship finish in six years. No longer the consistently last-placed team on the grid, Williams are now regular points contenders, as demonstrated by Albon’s five scores so far this year. When RaceFans speaks to Sargeant, it’s just days after he and Albon put both Williams into Q3 for the first time in 2023. He’s naturally encouraged by the momentum his team appears to be picking up.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” he says. “I think that’s quite clear.

“Having both cars in Q3 last weekend was definitely really cool for the team and you could see the energy that it brought within the garage. So there’s a lot of good going on, but still plenty for me to improve on, plenty for the team to improve on. We’re still very ‘work in progress’. But compared to where the team was last year, we’ve made a really good step forward.”

But while Albon qualified on the second row in Zandvoort to finish eighth, Sargeant crashed out of Q3 with a mistake. He then retired from the race with his =second crash in as many days, although suspected hydraulic failure offered an explanation for that. Sargeant has been in the wars a few times in 2023 and ironing out mistakes over the rest of his rookie season is a high priority.

“You just don’t want to make those mistakes no matter what the circumstances,” he says. “Saturday being my fault, Sunday being not my fault – it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s still not a good day.

“I think also coming from what was going on as a really good weekend and then for it to just flip on its head is never nice either. It’s definitely a bit of a roller coaster that you have to try and manage best you can. Try to keep the downs as little and minimal as possible. It is what it is. You’re always going to have ups and downs.”

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When times have got tough for Sargeant – such as when he was forced to pit for a new front wing after contact at the start of the Miami Grand Prix, leaving him 40 seconds adrift of the rest of the field – he’s regularly received warm words of encouragement from his team principal, James Vowles. During that tumultuous weekend at Zandvoort, Sargeant says Vowles was a constant touch point for him.

Sargeant says a first points finish will come
“We spoke a lot through the weekend,” Sargeant says. “I was really happy with where we were at the end of Friday, coming off the break. I think it was a good step forward for myself.

“Then even Saturday after the crash, I think it was just a really good moment for the entire team, the people on my side of the garage and everyone who’s put in the efforts to have both cars in Q3. So barring the crash, I think everyone was still extremely proud of what the team achieved on that day. And then, of course, Sunday was what it was. I think for the team, it hurt. For me, it hurt. It definitely was unfortunate after the Saturday.

“I think, bar the minor mistake on Saturday in Zandvoort, I have to be really happy with the progress I made till that point of the weekend. Obviously I have to eradicate those mistakes, but at the end of the day the pace was there, So I just need to continue that and really not let the bad parts of the weekend overshadow the great parts – because there were a lot. I just have to put those to the side and really look at the good stuff and try to carry that forward here.”

Being a rookie is always about balancing a fine line between being aggressive enough to show you have the speed and the skill to remain on the grid and cautious enough to avoid costly errors. Sargeant admits his driving through the first part of the year has been “definitely on a knife’s edge”.

“It’s a really fine line, to be honest,” he continues. “I feel like at the end of the day, you just have to back yourself and go for it.

“Realistically, if you’re too cautious, you’ll never get anywhere – if you’re too aggressive, you’ll make too many errors. So you have to live somewhere in the middle. You’re better off just trusting yourself and going for it rather than being too scared to really attack it.”

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With de Vries unceremoniously kicked out of his seat in July, Sargeant is the only remaining full-season rookie not to have scored his first point of the season. Although Zandvoort and Monza both seemed like golden opportunities for him to finally get that first career top ten finish, Sargeant is confident points are within his reach.

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Monza, 2023
Sargeant has yet to score in 2023
“I think they’ll come for sure,” he insists. “I just need to keep focusing on myself, keep working on myself. Just take it step-by-step and not force it too much.

“I think people forget, to be in the top 10 and finish inside the top 10 in an F1 race no matter what the circumstances are is tough. With how good everyone is out there and where we’re currently at with the car as well, it’s not a given that every single weekend we have the package to score points with. That makes it difficult, but I think the goal is to take Alex as a benchmark, learn from him, see what he’s doing, and honestly try to just get to that level.”

Sargeant only has a one-year contract with Williams, meaning his future with the team is not secured at this stage of the season. Have negotiations for 2024 started?

“From my side, I’ve been kept out of it if there are any,” he admits. “I’m just worried about focusing on myself at the moment – I don’t want to put any energy into something that’s honestly not going to help me when I get on track.

“It’s just about being physically, mentally prepared for these races. Mentally being able to bounce back from what was a tough end of last weekend and come into this one fresh and ready to go.”

But with eight rounds of his rookie season remaining, can Sargeant convince the team that gave him the biggest break of his career to keep him around for a second season next year?

“I hope so,” Sargeant says. “I’m definitely working hard on and off the track to make something happen.

“From my side, I’ve seen a lot of good throughout the European leg of the season – a lot of progress. I think if I clean things up, I won’t be far from where I need to be. So we’ll see.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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14 comments on “Exclusive: Sargeant on why he must drive “on a knife’s edge” to earn a second season”

  1. Sargeant has been pretty anonymous both on and off the track. The few times he does stand out, it’s for the wrong reasons. Even his Q3 appearance in Zandvoort was immediately overshadowed by the image of his car in ruins on his first lap in it.

    I don’t know, could go either way, I think Williams can probably find someone more suited for the seat, probably someone with some experience and perhaps a couple of junior titles who happens to be the son of former multiple F1 champion.

    1. @sjaakfoo They don’t seem very keen on sacking him after only a single season, not that they’re even known to act in such a manner more akin to Red Bull.
      Next season would be another matter, though, with higher expectations.

      1. Yeah, I tend to agree there @jerejj, while Sargeant has not really set the world alight, he has mostly done pretty decently given the car they have and has shown enough promise to keep him for another year to see whether he is able to take the next step (unless they’d have someone really promising pushing for the seat, which I don’t really see at the moment)

      2. Coventry Climax
        11th September 2023, 15:26

        Actually @jerejj, Williams do have a history of sacking drivers quite rapidly, even after they’ve become worldchampion with them.

        1. Yes, but perhaps they changed their ways recently, what with no longer being a top team, they seemed to have some patience with latifi example.

          1. @esploratore1 A change of way indeed seems the case versus how they may have tended to do in the distant past.
            However, in Latifi’s case, he would’ve been sacked sooner (although perhaps not after a single season either) if they stopped relying on sponsor money from drivers sooner, so their respective situations lack full comparability a little.

          2. Coventry Climax
            11th September 2023, 23:25

            This is what @jerejj said, literally:

            not that they’re even known to act in such a manner

            and I responded to that in that they are indeed actually known for it. Sure, things change over time, but that’s besides the point.

        2. That was all Frank Williams and Head. So that precedent is literally non-applicable.

  2. How about waiting until the end of the season, and then signing the F2 champion?

    1. Coventry Climax
      11th September 2023, 15:28

      How about accepting Williams will decide for themselves and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens?

  3. I would like to know how Mick Schumacher compares to Alex Albon.

    If he is a solid development driver, and he can match up with Albon, it would be beneficial to the progress of the Williams team.

    1. Coventry Climax
      11th September 2023, 23:33

      From the sound of it, you expect ms to do well against Albon, but correct me if I’m wrong.
      If I’m right though, it makes me doubt you would indeed really like to know how they compare.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      12th September 2023, 8:13

      If bottas ends up leaving alfa romeo, I think he would quite easily be the best choise for williams alongside Albon. I don’t think Schumacher will be a good development driver at all. He has little experience and in his 2 seasons, has pretty much been the most error prone driver on the grid.

  4. I like Sargeant, but I think Latifi would have scored more points this year than Logan (which is more than none in this case).

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