There is only one space left to be filled on the grid for the 2024 Formula 1 season.
Williams’ rookie driver Logan Sargeant is feeling the pressure as he strives to prove he deserves a second season at the team. But his team mate has scored every one of their 23 points so far, and Sargeant’s form has been conspicuously poor since F1 returned from its summer break.
He crashed in qualifying at Zandvoort, picked up a penalty at Monza, then crashed again in Singapore and Japan. Last weekend he spun out of the sprint race in Qatar and – to no discredit – had to withdraw from the race due to his ill health in the gruelling conditions.
In our driver ratings, five out of 10 is considered representative of an average performance. Sargeant’s scores over the past five rounds are three, four, four, two and four again.
While Williams have been patient with Sargeant so far, it remains to be seen whether that patience will extend to a second season. Do you think it should?
There has never been a harder time to be a rookie in F1. Not only has testing been trimmed back to a mere three days – so one-and-a-half per driver – but practice time during events has been cut back drastically. On a good weekend drivers get three hours, but that’s cut back to just one at sprint events (such as next week’s United States Grand Prix) and other format changes such as the Alternative Tyre Allocation have further cut into practice mileage this year.
Sargeant didn’t arrive in F1 with the benefit of a year’s testing programme as other rookies such as Oscar Piastri did. Nonetheless, he’d shown speed and potential, reaching Q3 for the first time at Zandvoort.
AlphaTauri may have tossed Nyck de Vries aside after just 10 races, but he was further away from his team mate’s pace, and Red Bull was eager to get Daniel Ricciardo back in an F1 car. Williams’ shouldn’t give up on Sargeant as quickly.
Had McLaren not pounced on the opportunity to sign Piasti he could have ended up a Williams driver this year. Sargeant’s performances compared to his fellow rookies must be leaving his team wondering what might have been.
Sargeant has not only failed to perform better than his predecessor in the role, Nicholas Latifi, he’s doing worse. Albon has the highest points tally of any Williams driver for six years, so for Sargeant to have contributed nothing is a problem.
Williams have a seven-point lead over Alfa Romeo, but they scored points with both drivers in Qatar. Team principal James Vowles has indicated he’s willing to give Sargeant time to come good, and his status as F1’s only American driver gives him obvious commercial appeal, but on the face of his performances so far they risk giving away points and positions in the championship if they keep him in the team for next year.
This time a year ago Williams was shoehorning Sargeant into every practice session going in an effort to shore up his superlicence points tally and ensure he would be able to race in F1 this year. It didn’t smack of a driver who was fully prepared to make the step up, and it feels like they embarked on signing him prepared to accept a rough period at the start of his F1 career.
For the most part, his results haven’t shown the all-important trend in the right direction as he’s gained experience. At this stage in the season you’d expect him to regularly demonstrate he can be a safe pair of hands and bring the car home, but that is happening too infrequently. His improving qualifying pace counts in his favour, however, and surely is why Williams are keeping the faith in him for now.
As it stands, I’m weakly against Williams keeping Sargeant for next year. I would far rather see him produce the kind of performances he’s shown flashes of so far and make a cast-iron case for a second season. But unless he can keep his car out of the fence, that’s not going to happen.
The dilemma of needing to cut out mistakes without sacrificing speed is an enormously difficult one which has claimed drivers in the past – notably Mick Schumacher last year. Barring a breakthrough in the coming races, two of which he will contest on home ground, it’s starting to look like Sargeant may suffer the same fate.
Do you think Williams should keep Sargeant for next year? If not, who should they replace him with? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments:
Do you agree Williams should keep Logan Sargeant for the 2024 F1 season?
- No opinion (2%)
- Strongly disagree (44%)
- Slightly disagree (32%)
- Neither agree nor disagree (10%)
- Slightly agree (9%)
- Strongly agree (2%)
Total Voters: 140
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