Logan Sargeant, Williams, Suzuka, 2023

Sargeant to start from pits with 10-second penalty for team’s crash repair error

Formula 1

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Logan Sargeant will start today’s Japanese Grand Prix from the pit lane and is required to serve a 10-second time penalty during the race following an error by his team.

Williams failed to follow the correct procedures when it began work on a replacement chassis for Sargeant following his heavy crash in Q1 at Suzuka.

Formula 1’s rules allow teams to have no more than two cars ready for using at any one time and forbid them from having completed spare available in order to control costs. They may have spare survival cells ready to be built up into replacement cars.

The rules tightly define how complete these survival cells may be. The stewards found Williams broke that rule when they began work on a replacement car for Sargeant after his Saturday crash.

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer informed the stewards Williams began work on their spare chassis, number three, on Saturday night. He noted “chassis three was assembled to more than an assembly comprising a survival cell as defined in [Sporting Regulations] Article 27.2” and “this has to be considered as a third car available to the competitor.”

Williams’ repairs included fitting replacement parts and changing the specifications of some components which meant Sargeant would inevitably required to start from the pits. The stewards noted the team’s failure to follow the rules regarding the spare chassis meant a further penalty was required.

“After hearing from the competitor, the technical delegate and the single seater director [Nikolas Tombazis], the stewards came to the conclusion that during qualifying (Q1), the Williams Racing car number suffered an accident where chassis one [was] damaged beyond repair.

“Following the qualifying session, chassis three was then assembled to a level exceeding that defined in Article 27.2 of the Sporting Regulations, which defines the state of assembly for a chassis to be considered to be a car,” the stewards stated. “The Williams Racing team was therefore found to be in breach of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states that each competitor may not have more than two cars available at any time during a competition.

“Furthermore it should be noted that the available working time during parc fermé for the assembly of a complete car is limited, and hence in case of severe accident, this may jeopardise the participation of a car in the race. It is also noted that car two has been subjected to a change of specification, and therefore, under Article 40.9 is due to start the race from the pit lane in any case for a different offence.

“According to [technical directive] 021/Issue G dated on 22nd August 2023 the minimum penalty for an offence will be a start from the pit lane. In addition to this, a further penalty may be imposed by the stewards. As a start from pit lane is already imposed for the modification of parts, a further penalty for having a third chassis available was appropriate.”

However the stewards believe the matter should be discussed by a future meeting of the Sporting Advisory Committee.

Sargeant was already due to start today’s race from last place having failed to set a time in qualifying, but been given a dispensation to start by the stewards.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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4 comments on “Sargeant to start from pits with 10-second penalty for team’s crash repair error”

  1. So you break a chassis but cant replace it? Sorry, this is confusing

    1. Exactly. It’s not like the 2nd car was a complete chassis after the crash!

      1. It seems to be an admin thing that needs clarifying in the rules (probably why the stewards have referred it for discussion).

        The teams are allowed a spare chassis (basically limited to the tub & survival cell) but the mechanism for when they can use this is unclear from the above.

        It looks like:
        The first car/chassis needs to be “officially” written-off as unusable before the replacement chassis can be built up into a new car. It seems that is what Williams have fallen foul of here, and the work on the replacement had gone too far before the first car had been fully written off.

        Also looks like they’d have got a penalty anyway because it happened between Qualifying and the Race so the repairs also go beyond the allowed changes in the Parc Ferme rules.

        It definitely needs clearing up for the future. I’m surprised this has hasn’t happened sooner actually!

        1. Yeah, as you mention @tayoma, it seems that instead of getting the car back and officially receiving confirmation from/with Bauer that yeah, they had to go with the spare chassis, they just immediately set about building it up to get going on time and that meant that technically there would have been 3 “cars” available with the team.

          Probably a bit of a rules clarification / detail specification issue, although i get that they need a strict control or risk getting back 3rd cars for some drivers.

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