Alexander Albon's pit garage, Williams, Albert Park, 2024

Are Williams right to bench Sargeant so Albon can race after crash?

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Williams team principal James Vowles admitted it was “unacceptable” his team did not have a spare car ready in time for the third round of the championship.

It presented Vowles with a difficult decision to make when Alexander Albon crashed one of the team’s two cars in the opening practice session at Albert Park. Ordinarily that might have been the end of Albon’s weekend, but Vowles decided otherwise.

The team has instead opted to take Logan Sargeant out of his car and hand it to Albon. While Vowles stressed it was a “difficult decision” which “was not made lightly”, he also said they “made the call based on our best potential to score points this weekend.”

Have Williams made the right call?


The numbers are unquestionably on Williams’ side. Prior to this weekend, in their 24 races as team mates, Sargeant has never qualified ahead of Albon nor taken the chequered flag in a grand prix before him.

Last year Albon scored 27 of the team’ 28 points. Had he been their only points-scorer they would still have finished seventh in the championship. Had it been Sargeant, they would have been last.

Albon also has experience on his side. Expecting Sargeant to lead a solo entry just three rounds into his second year as an F1 driver would be too much.


Sargeant is being made to pay the price for his team mate’s error. There were several occasions last year when he was the driver who crashed, but he’s kept his car out of the barriers so far this weekend and doesn’t deserve to have it taken away from him.

Williams knew the compromise it was making when it signed Sargeant as a rookie last year. New drivers need time in the car to develop, which makes their decision to bench him illogical.

If he’s not good enough to deserve the drive on his own merit, he shouldn’t be in the car to begin with.

I say

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Albert Park, 2024
Sargeant’s Australian Grand Prix is over
I sympathise completely with Sargeant, but Vowles has made the right decision. Williams has become a one-car team for this event, and its Albon is unquestionably the better bet on the whole.

True, he has now crashed twice in his last 13 laps of the Albert Park, and Williams will look extremely foolish if he has another accident. That said, Sargeant had a spin and went off during the second practice session, at which point he knew he was driving what was likely the team’s only remaining car.

This is the kind of call where the heart says one thing and the head another. On balance, Albon is the driver to put in the car, despite the obvious injustice for Sargeant.

Given that, I would have no objection if the FIA was to rewrite its rules to prevent teams doing the same in future.

You say

Have Williams made the correct decision? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree with Williams' decision to put Albon in Sargeant's car?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Strongly disagree (15%)
  • Slightly disagree (10%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (4%)
  • Slightly agree (19%)
  • Strongly agree (52%)

Total Voters: 124

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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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44 comments on “Are Williams right to bench Sargeant so Albon can race after crash?”

  1. williams needs to take its name back.

  2. DUPOUY (@oneightwozeroes)
    22nd March 2024, 12:28

    I slightly disagree.
    Alex crashed here 2 years in a row, missed 2 sessions. Logan deserved to keep his seat .
    Alex has to deliver otherwise it will damage his reputation

  3. What I don’t quite understand is that they’re saying “points are essential so we have to do whatever we can to score them” and yet they’re letting Sargeant continue as number 2 driver…. It doesn’t make sense.

    They either care about maximising points (in which case, they need 2 good drivers) or they don’t care about points and can continue to run arrive & drive sessions for billionaires.

    1. This is a good point, just based on last season, sargeant in the car can cost them around 13-15 points (probably the replacement won’t be as good as albon), which are way more than albon can score in a race.

    2. It’s about surviving as a team as well, they need that financial backing in order to go racing and they have Albon as the driver to get them the points on race day. If they can find a driver to bring in the money AND the points good on them, no doubt other teams would be interested in said driver.

      1. It’s about surviving as a team as well

        Liberty paid out $1.2 billion to the teams last year. That’s not a 1/10 split for all, but the Williams team still gets an absolutely huge amount of money to, well, show up. Where is all that money going? They’re not competitive. They don’t invest anything to change that. It’s all rather unimpressive.

  4. It really depends on how one looks at it. I really dislike the need to do this, but I also agree that it is the right thing to do.

    Just as it was clearly the right thing to do for Haas to get Magnussen to slow everybody behind enough that Hulk could nab a point, it is so important for the teams at the back of the grid to get a point – and we’ve seen Australia throw up a race where it might be possible to get such a point often enough. Given the choice, yeah, Albon is the one to get that if at all possible.

    On the other hand, no it is not fair towards Sargeant, and yeah, Alex will have feel the pressure. And I would hope that Sargeant get’s something in return from this later. But it’s the reality.

    1. “I really dislike the need to do this, but I also agree that it is the right thing to do…”


      It makes us wonder how many teams bring a 3rd chassis, if needed.

  5. Is the decision correct? Probably.

    But one does wonder why Sargeant is in that car at all if we’re 3 races into the season and he’s so easily shoved aside for his teammate. If he’s not seen as remotely equal to Albon, he should’ve been sacked last year. But I guess the purse he brought along with him is necessary for a team that somehow couldn’t afford to build 3 chassis’.

    Once again, it’s puzzling how a team like Williams has “added value” for F1, when Andretti with a signed works deal supposedly isn’t good enough.

    1. I guess the added value for williams is all in their past, being a top team in the 90s and the many titles won, also having high calibre drivers like senna, prost mansell, piquet and so on, not much in the present.

      1. I mean, I don’t think Dorilton Racing has much to do with that team of the 90s at any rate, but it also doesn’t matter because the “added value” argument never came from us, it came from Vowles and his team along with the other 9 team principles and FOM. They made it so that it’s now their continued job to prove their “added value” to us, it wouldn’t even have been a thing had they not denied Andretti’s entry with such poor reasoning.

    2. @sjaakfoo Williams also happening to be the third oldest team in the sport and with one of the most substantial historical records in terms of success?

      I thought that you had been commenting in the past about the importance of the heritage and tradition of the sport – yet, at the same time, seem to want to kick out a team that has made a significant contribution to those very values that you have championed in the past.

      1. That does not sound like me or my opinion.

  6. Strongly disagree was an easy choice for me.

    1. @jerejj Me too.
      Albon is obviously the better driver. But it feels completely wrong that Sergeant has to pay for Albon’s mistake in wrecking his own car.

    2. Same here. It doesn’t only feel wrong, I also beg to question whether it’s a wise decision to demoralize one driver so early in the season.
      It’s a bit like that unnecessary team order call (on a completely different level of course) by RB in Bahrain. Why unsettle the dynamics in a team so early on with so little to gain?

      1. Actually there is potentially a lot to gain. William’s expect to be strong(er) here and Albon has a FAR greater chance of scoring points than Logan. With the midfield battle being so tight, 1 point at the end of the year could mean the difference of millions of dollars/pounds. Williams are in a position where they need every point they can get from tracks that suit their car. I completely agree with the decision to run Albon – it sucks for Logan and will dent his pride, but he has also helped the decision by being consistently slower than his team mate for more than a year.

  7. Jonathan Parkin
    22nd March 2024, 13:16

    I was reminded that when the huge 12 car smash at Spa in 98 happened, Murray and Martin were debating whether Eddie would take part in the race because of this issue

    Whilst Alex possibly is the best hope for points, it was his crash that put them in this situation in the first place. So if he doesn’t score this weekend Logan Sergeant fans are going to snarl very loudly

    1. I guess the decision in spa 1998 was made easier by the fact schumacher avoided the crash, and they didn’t expect to have another mass pile up in the 2nd start.

      1. That’s actually what made the decision hard. Normally you’d put your crashed driver in the spare car (even if it was set-up for the other driver, which in this case it would’ve obviously been set-up for Schumi), but if you gave Irvine that car and a crash did indeed happen on the restart, Schumacher would have retired from the race and lost precious points against Hakkinen (he still did, in the end, courtesy of a misjudgment or courtesy of Coulthard, depending on who you ask). So yeah, it was definitely a thing worth considering to not give Irvine the spare car and just save it for Schumacher just in case.

        1. Ok, some mental exercises:
          Had there been a second crash that would have eliminated Schumacher they could (and probably would) have switched Schumacher back to his spare car given the race would have been stopped and Irvine would have survived.
          Only if that second crash would have taken both Ferraris out with damage beyond repair it would have made sense to have Irvine not allowed to start the second start in the first place.
          To many woulds for Ross Brawn to consider it I guess. :)

          1. This would not be allowed. Once Irvine used that car to start the race, it would no longer be available to the other driver.

  8. When you think about the money, parts & lack of points that Logan has cost the team the last year compared to Albon, it makes more sense. Still not exactly fair though but Formula 1 & racing isn’t fair & people forget that sometimes.

    1. If formula 1 were a fair sport, a better driver than sargeant would be on the seat this year, so in a fair sport this decision would’t have to be taken.

    2. wouldn’t*

  9. Why should the FIA “rewrite its rules to prevent teams doing the same”?
    Anyone can drive the two cars, I don’t see why we should restrict teams from “switching” the cars between drivers

  10. I slightly agree.
    From a performance point of view, and this being a team’s sport (as in a driver can’t do anything without the team) they have to make the best overall decision. I think it is a bit equivalent to a cyclist leaving his bicycle to the team’s leader when they crash so that his leader doesn’t lose much time (not exactly the same, hence me saying a bit).

    The only reason I don’t strongly agree is because it isn’t fair for Sargeant since he didn’t crash his car and it is a bit sad to see this happening as the team should have had a spare chassis, as Vowels admitted not having one by the 3rd race is unacceptable.

    1. Yes, all parties are at fault in some way: williams should have 3 chassis, albon shouldn’t have crashed (but can happen now and then, even to the best drivers) and sargeant should’ve performed better so far, if he hadn’t been this far from albon’s performance this wouldn’t have happened.

  11. See? For all of sargeant’s defender, strongly agree is the winning option atm with 40% of votes and 57% generally agree with giving the car to albon, it can still change a bit, but the obvious choice prevails.

    1. Defenders*

    2. @esploratore1 You seem heavily invested in this issue, which I don’t really understand. I really don’t care if 95% agree with Williams. My opinion will remain the same, that’s why it’s an opinion! I’m not ‘defending’ Sargeant either. It’s about intra-team morale and responsibility. If they don’t have confidence in his racing, he shouldn’t be there. If they do, let him race.

  12. Albon is the better driver, but Sargeant didn’t crash when he spun his car.

  13. Peter Collins gave his car to team leader Fangio at the 1955 Italian GP. And by doing so gave up the World Championship.

    The Sergeant case is trivial in comparison.

  14. Makes sense to me.
    Albon is the best hope for points for the team = everyone benefits.
    It is hard on Sergeant but it makes sense.

    What I would love to know though is this.
    If this was Aston Martin and they only had one car …. who would get it?

    1. Yes, this would be a very interesting case to see, nepotism vs performance, however it’s realistically not gonna happen given the money stroll sr. has.

  15. Williams are fighting for few points. Albon is more likely to secure them. He should drive.

    But on the other hand, Albon binned it and Sargeant did not.

    Therefore I vote “slightly agree”. Albon should drive, he is proven to be a more likely points scorer, but it doesn’t make it fair.

  16. Every so often you get reminded that formula one is a team sport first and foremost. Williams are perfectly within their rights to decide who drives their cars, and Sargeant certainly hasn’t made this a difficult decision with his performances.

    I also disagree that the FIA should change the rules to prevent this. I think any other team, barring in a championship scenario, would have treated their drivers equally, but the difference in ability here is too stark. Say you get to the final race and a team only has one driver with a possibility of winning the championship, if they were in Albon’s situation would you want them to be ruled out before the race even began, or have them take over their team mate’s car and still have a chance?

    1. Good point, and as I read your comment I thought you were gonna make a football reference when you said “final”, at the penalties in the end when both teams scored 2 goals, teams pick (or at least used to pick, I don’t follow football) the players who are more likely to score, in such a case sargeant would obviously not have a go.

  17. Williams has scored zero points this year. In the preceding five years, they are the worst performing team by far, scoring just 60 points, or just over 10 per year. And 10 of those are from the clownish Belgian GP in 2021 which wasn’t really a race at all.

    hat they’re now pretending to play 4D chess about maximizing their point scoring ability is just silly. Really? They have a lead driver who was dumped by his one and only prior employer and wrecked his car. A second driver they’d rather not drive, and they can’t even get themselves a spare chassis nearly a month into the season?

    How is any of this ‘adding value to F1’?

  18. Logan’s best lap time in practice, in FP2, was 1’18.578. If he’d produced a time like that in FP1 then he’d have been at the top of the FP1 timing chart, and that would have made it very difficult for Williams to justify giving “his car” to Alex this weekend. I’m guessing there’s lots of reasons why everyone’s times in FP2 are lower than in FP1, but that faster time tells us the car can go that fast with Logan driving it.
    Even if it is for just for one lap per practice session Logan needs to produce a time which puts him in the top ten at every Grand Prix practice session. Of course, the corollary of producing a top ten time at every practice session is the risk of crashing increases exponentially, and if he’d done that Williams would be blaming him instead of thanking him.

    1. As you know, a lap or even a race doesn’t make a good driver, otherwise ricciardo’s mclaren stint would’ve been a success with his awesome monza race in 2021; they have to perform consistently, or at least more often than not, not once in a blue moon.

  19. “Logan, this is James…”

    Joking aside, this is the right decision. This is a difficult track, and, while Jeddah is wall-to-wall… walls, the variation in the turns here makes it difficult to get a perfect lap in. Logan has had a lot of forbearance shown to him to even be in the car. It might even help his chances this year to not drive here.

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