FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

F1 season review: Logan Sargeant found form when it mattered most

Logan Sargeant struggled through his rookie F1 season, but ultimately did enough to warrant an extension with Williams for 2024

Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast

One of three drivers to embark on their maiden F1 season at the start of 2023, Logan Sargeant proved to be the most polarising rookie.

Sargeant F1 Williams season review
Logan Sargeant started the season well, in Bahrain (pictured), but struggled as it progressed. Eventually, he found enough of a footing to earn an extension for 2024. (Image Credit: Williams Media Pool)

A former member of the Williams Driver Academy, Sargeant was able to step up to F1 with the team when he secured the requisite FIA Super License points at last year’s F2 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Whilst AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries was unceremoniously turfed out of his seat before mid-season and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri flourished, Sargeant found himself somewhere between – almost in a sort of no-man’s land – not certain of his future in the sport, but also not certainly failing to make the grade.

Public opinion followed suit: to some, he proved his underlying pace and showcased enough potential to earn a second season. However, to many, he didn’t meet expectations and disappointed. Particularly when ex-Carlin teammate Liam Lawson debuted for AlphaTauri after the summer break, impressing almost immediately.

Whilst Williams did eventually decide to re-up with him for 2024, it was far from smooth sailing and his extension wasn’t announced until after the conclusion of the season, long after the rest of the grid’s future was confirmed.

What went well?

Whether you agreed with the decision for Williams to resign Sargeant or not, they did it for a reason.

Yes, the team have positioned themself as the antithesis of the Red Bull model and the remedy for the increasingly unsympathetic approach F1 rookies are afforded. But Williams wouldn’t have retained Logan if they didn’t see something in the data, and in him.

First and foremost, Sargeant is undeniably quick. He’s shown it throughout his junior career and now with Williams too. On his debut, he narrowly missed out on advancing to Q2, setting an identical time to Lando Norris and qualifying P16.

He did finally get out of Q1 in Baku, where he replicated that success in F1’s inaugural sprint qualifying session the following morning.

Sargeant has had strong one-lap pace throughout the year when he’s been able to hook it together. That has translated into several drives through the field during races, too. The Austrian, British, and Sao Paulo grands prix come to mind, just missing out on points in the latter two.

And not for nothing, he’s clearly built a strong relationship with Williams and a home at the team. It appears to be the ideal situation for a rookie in F1 to find themself in. James Vowles has fostered a nurturing environment, where Sargeant has been able to make mistakes and learn from them, whilst continuing to grow in confidence and understanding.

When Sargeant was at perhaps his lowest ebb, following a post-summer slump in form, he found his feet. A tough weekend in Qatar brought him and the team together, and he was able to re-centre himself for the rounds to come, starting with the United States Grand Prix, where he’d take his first F1 point.

What could have gone better?

Two key issues stand out when it comes to appraising Logan’s rookie campaign: mistakes and track limits issues in qualifying – in short, unforced errors.

There were too many crashes and too much damage to his Williams FW45. Sargeant led the way in the cost of crash damage across the F1 grid during the 2023 season, coming in at $4.33 million and almost $700,000 more than the second-worst, Carlos Sainz.

Whilst the pace was there, Sargeant suffered too many mistakes, particularly in qualifying. The accident in Japan was a big one, as was his crash at Zandvoort on what was his first appearance in Q3.

On a number of occasions, he failed to register within the 107% qualifying rule. Sometimes that was due to an incident, but mainly it was because of multiple track limit violations.

Even at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sargeant had both his lap times deleted for going out of bounds at turn one when he had pace in hand to make it through to Q2.

The issue goes back to the second round of the season, in Saudi Arabia, where he missed the chance to outqualify Albon for the first time. He would end the season 28-0 in that battle (including sprint shootouts).

Ironically, the last time that happened in F1, Albon was on the receiving end when he failed to outqualify Max Verstappen in 2020.

Low points and highlights

Personally, Logan’s low point is easily identifiable – the span of four races between the Dutch Grand Prix and the Japanese Grand Prix.

It was a messy, error-strewn run which started with him binning the car in Q3 at Zandvoort. He would also crash out of the race, setting in motion a string of underwhelming weekends.

The following round, at Monza, went by without incident. But with Albon qualifying P6 and holding on to P7 in the race, Sargeant’s performance looked anaemic by comparison.

With the pressure starting to mount, finding the barriers during the Singapore Grand Prix was the most noteworthy part of an otherwise anonymous weekend there, but the following round in Japan would prove to be perhaps the lowest point yet.

A heavy crash in Q1 put Williams on the backfoot, with Sargeant having to take on old-spec parts and the team admitting that the amount of crash damage incurred during recent races would hinder their ability to develop within the cost cap.

On the Sunday, a sloppy lock-up tripped up Valtteri Bottas, putting the Alfa Romeo driver out of the race.

The turning point

Having to retire from the high-octane, high-attrition Qatar Grand Prix through illness would end up serving as a turning point for Sargeant, laying the groundwork for the most obvious highlight of his maiden F1 season: his first point.

However, two moments stand out more vividly when I recount Sargeant’s season – his first F1 qualifying session in Bahrain, where he was only a couple of tenths off his teammate; and when he secured P7 on the grid in Las Vegas, again just behind Albon.

Bahrain was his introduction to F1, and what a way to show what you can do, especially when expectations were so low – or rather, so underdeveloped.

In many ways, qualifying in Las Vegas was more important than his P10 in Austin. It was evidence that he could maximise his performance, get all he could from the car, and leave everything out there.

What does he need to improve upon for next year?

The main development points for Sargeant will be to reduce the frequency and size of errors and to find more consistency in his performance.

He has all the tools he needs at his disposal, so it’s more a question of whether he can put it all together at the same time, and for long enough stretches.

After starting strongly in Bahrain, his confidence seemed to dip a little as the mistakes came. Once he was able to turn that around post-Qatar, he generally looked much more comfortable in the car and himself during the final five rounds, which is ultimately what culminated in him retaining the Williams drive.

He needs to solidify that progress and continue along that trajectory next season. Closing the gap to Albon is key. Sargeant was outraced 19-3 through the grands prix this season and that needs to even out.

Whilst he was sometimes within a couple of tenths of Alex, too often he found himself between three and five-tenths back over one lap. That delta must decrease, otherwise, it becomes harder to justify a third season in F1.

Thankfully for Sargeant, the sophomore slump – the phenomena whereby an athlete regresses in their second season as a professional – isn’t so much a thing in motorsport, but he undoubtedly needs to take a step forward as opposed to just holding steady.

And so, in closing

Like Zhou Guanyu before him, I feel that Sargeant was written off before being given a fair hearing.

Whilst he wasn’t an FIA F3 or F2 champion – although he ran Piastri (and Theo Pourchaire) close to the F3 crown in 2020 – he did move from F3 to F2 to F1 in consecutive seasons, leaving little time or room for development. Now here, Williams seem insistent on giving him that.

That will serve him well, especially considering he’s up against a renewed and rejuvenated Alex Albon, who is quickly turning into a star.

Williams have enjoyed some strong lead drivers in recent years, and their teammates have maybe struggled comparatively. But the idea that Sargeant is in some ways a continuation of Nicolas Latifi is unfair and disingenuous. The criticism of both drivers is overblown, but Sargeant is younger, less experienced and has more raw pace and a higher ceiling than Latifi did.

When weighing up the merits and demerits of his debut season, I believe that the flashes of potential he showed, through outright speed and strong race craft add up to an above-average rookie campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s some way from Piastri at this stage of their careers, but I can’t move past the feeling that the number of detractors, and the criticism levied against Sargeant, is disproportionate to his performance during his maiden F1 season.

Season rating: 5.5/10

Featured Image Credit: Williams Media Pool

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

Back to the top