Sargeant admits he’s ‘struggled to use all the downforce at times’ in F1

Formula 1

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Logan Sargeant says his breakthrough points score in the United States Grand Prix last month was partly a result of him gaining more confidence in his Williams.

The Williams rookie admitted he still needs to make gains in qualifying, having finished at the bottom of the times sheets in both grid-setting sessions at his home race, but said those gains are coming.

“Austin wasn’t easy, only having one session,” said Sargeant. “You can’t really find where you want to go with tools, it’s all happening really quick.”

However his pace in the race was strong enough for him to finish 12th, and he was promoted to the final points position following the disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. He said it wasn’t the first time he’s felt that competitive in a race this year.

“I would say there’s been races this year that have also been close to that level of pace,” Sargeant remarked.

“I think it’s been getting better and better. Austin as a whole wasn’t a terrible weekend. On Friday I was very close to where I need to be, just made a little mistake in qualifying. Saturday, yes, was a struggle for sure – a bit of a question mark.

“But then Sunday was back to where I was expecting to be. We worked hard overnight to find a direction, mainly using tools on my steering [wheel], just to get a better balance.

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“We were changing things through the lap every single lap, trying to link the car together from one corner to another and I think that’s what I was missing on Saturday. And I was able to reconnect with that on the Sunday.”

Sargeant’s point in Austin was one of few strong results he’s had since the summer break, during which time he has suffered a series of crashes and setbacks. However he has been satisfied with his underlying pace.

“I think from since the summer break, it’s been a lot better. There’s been times where qualifying has been going really well.

“In Singapore, I was on a great lap and the gearbox failed. There’s not much I can do about that. Japan, I was right where I need to be and made a silly mistake.

“So it’s not like the pace isn’t there. It’s all coming together, it’s getting better and better, it’s getting stronger and stronger.”

He believes “the quali pace has been even closer than the race pace” much of the time. “I just didn’t get it quite right in Austin and I had a really good Sunday.

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“So I think if I can get back to what I was doing from a one-lap pace before and make sure I do a good job there, be as close as I can and then try to have another good Sunday, that’s really all I need to do.”

Sargeant made the frank admission that during his rookie season he has been “at times struggling to use the amount of downforce that I’ve had.”

“It can be quite surprising how much grip there is and just trying to understand that,” explained the driver who stepped up to F1 from F2 last year. “I feel like I’m much closer to knowing where the limit is at all times, which is obviously very beneficial.

“Just finding the level of the limit between grip and downforce. I feel like now it’s becoming – there’s been a bit of a switch where now I go into a high-speed corner and I know pretty much where the limit is. So that’s been really nice, just to sort of naturally move forward from a driving sense.

“But I think the biggest bit to keep working on is the little things that you would never really do in a junior formulae. So using the tools more, and starting earlier in the weekend on that sense, and understanding how they can be used to help you more. There’s so much time there that you might not even realise. But those small things make a big difference to tyre warm-up, stuff like that.”

He said he’s conferred with Williams team mate Alexander Albon “a lot more recently, just to try to help me on that front,” because there is so much potential to unlock from the car. “It’s been moving me forward.

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“Those are the small things that aren’t natural to me. But the more you start to understand them, the more you start to extract from them, and the amount of time that you can find from those things is unimaginable.”

As his understanding of the car has improved Sargeant has become more confident about giving feedback to his team during races, something he put into practice during his run to his breakthrough point.

“Just knowing how difficult the car can become to drive when the tyres are going off gave me a sense of ‘they want me to keep going, but now is the time to stop’, kind of. And that is just from previous errors,” he explained.

“Normally of course you have to trust what [the engineers] are saying. But I also know how it feels in the car and I feel like I’m just at a point where I also knew the strategy, I knew where we were at in the race and I knew that if we stopped, I could still make it to the end.

“I know when I’m losing too much, when there’s too much risk, and when we just need to move on. And I feel like that’s somewhere I’m getting better at.”

His race day improvements were highlighted by running 12th in the Mexican Grand Prix a week later, before being forced out by a problem with his fuel pump, and then finishing one place outside the points in the Brazilian Grand Prix seven days after that.

But he will still be looking to make improvements in his qualifying pace. He failed to set a representative lap time in Mexico while Albon qualified 14th, and in Brazil he started from the back row for the sprint race and the grand prix.

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2023 United States Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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3 comments on “Sargeant admits he’s ‘struggled to use all the downforce at times’ in F1”

  1. Maybe he should look for a other series as professinal driver you should be at easy using all the tools that is why you use the simulator so you can use the tools when you are on track without any problems….
    Very strange remark it’s almost if he has problems finetuning his car…

    1. its been said hes been driving cars that were completely out of sorts, with all kinds of parts on it, due to shortages/damage, etc… That hes been driving a car that really isn’t spec. As long as he knows where hes losing out, he can still improve. I don’t think the simulator will help him too much except to understand what gears he should be in, his breaking points ,etc… He will need a consistent car, and a little learning to understand how his car works, and by the sound of it, its not really sorted out given the way the wind is blowing so hes not the only one.

  2. Nice, honest and insightful interview. Logan seems to have a great attitude and mindset. That must be one of the reasons Williams is so supportive and are probably gonna give him a second season. But having said that I doubt Logan has the talent to be a front runner in the future and with so many talented guys waiting on the sidelines – I’d rather see another driver getting his chance in F1 in 2024.

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