FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

Why Williams should stick with Sargeant, not roll the dice again

Logan Sargeant has endured a difficult F1 maiden campaign, but that doesn’t mean Williams should give up on him after just one season

Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast

From the outside looking in, Williams seems about as supportive an environment as Logan Sargeant will find F1 – but are the team merely delaying the inevitable?

Sargeant Williams F1
Logan Sargeant is the only driver yet to have his 2024 F1 seat confirmed. (Image Credit: @WilliamsRacing on X)

It’s no secret that the 22-year-old’s debut season in F1 hasn’t quite gone the way he, or his team, would have hoped. The biggest issue for the young American, however, is that things don’t appear to be improving. In fact, if anything, they seem to be getting worse.

Sargeant was always going to face intense scrutiny under the unforgiving lights of Formula 1. Written off by many before he’d even secured the Williams seat for 2023, the detractors haven’t let up since.

Scoreless through the opening 16 rounds of his F1 career, Sargeant has shown flashes of the speed that got him there, but not on a consistent enough basis. And there have been too many mistakes. Too many unforced errors.

Of all the drivers to compete in every race this season, he is the only one yet to get off the mark.

But yet, through it all, Williams are standing by their man. Publicly supporting Sargeant and moving ever closer to retaining him for 2024.

Led by Team Principal James Vowles, the suggestion from the team always was that they’d keep him for a second season, and that doesn’t appear to have changed.

But why would they, given Sargeant’s struggles?

In a world where results and an immediate and obvious trajectory of improvement are everything, the British team are charting a contrarian course – and they’re right to do so.

F1 drivers are like quarterbacks in American football. They’re the focal point of everything their team does. And most importantly, they need to be protected, both physically and mentally. If your quarterback isn’t cared for, you’re not winning.

Williams are choosing to give Sargeant time, a supportive environment and the opportunity to develop at his own pace. They’ve blessed him with the space to make mistakes, not burdened with pressure and insurmountable expectations.

Williams’s stance is one of principle; a rejection of modern Formula 1 – and in many ways, the ruthless, cut-throat nature of Red Bullism.

And by that, I mean the ever-increasing trend towards the requirement for instant results, and instant success in Formula 1. Anything less and you’re cut loose with a black mark against your name.

Williams’s lead driver is the embodiment of this way of thinking.

Promoted into the Red Bull setup after just half a season in F1, like Pierre Gasly before him, Alex Albon was never truly able to meet the high standard set by the team. It was too much, too soon.

However, along with Gasly, Albon also happens to be the blueprint for finding your way back in modern F1. The paradigm of what can be accomplished when a driver is given the right tools and the time to succeed.

After a year out of a race seat in 2021, Williams have rebuilt him over the past two seasons into one of the standout performers in Formula 1. His form this season has been nothing short of exceptional, and it’s renewed his reputation.

That is what the team hopes to achieve with Sargeant.

Looks can be deceiving

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to cast aspersions.

As a team, Williams’s facilities are painfully outdated and underdeveloped – James Vowles has been open about that.

The car is towards the back of the field in terms of outright pace and the fight for even a solitary point on any given weekend is fierce.

You could argue that it’s the worst environment for a rookie to be in – particularly one that appears to be low on confidence right now. And to an extent, that’s true.

Sargeant Williams F1
Logan Sargeant has made a number of recent errors in both qualifying and races, which hasn’t helped his confidence or his case for a 2024 race seat. (Image Credit: ANP via Getty Images)

To extend the American football analogy, the success and career longevity of a quarterback is often heavily dependent on the situation player gets drafted into. Do they have the tools around them to succeed?

On top of that, that environment helps shape the narrative and the perception around the player. Hypothetically say we swapped Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri around this season. How different do you think our relative perceptions of their performance would be?

However, that’s discounting the importance of the current Williams philosophy in fostering success in their drivers, which is why Williams is the perfect environment for Sargeant to be in.

The point cuts both ways, too.

A quick look at Sargeant’s record from the F1 support bill makes for mixed reading. But that doesn’t tell the full story.

Mixed reading

In his debut FIA F3 season in an unfancied Carlin, the American took five points across four points finishes.

Felipe Drugovich – also in this rookie season at that level – in one of the other Carlins had a more consistent year, but only managed one points scoring finish – enough to finish ahead of Sargeant on eight points, though.

The following season, this time with PREMA, Sargeant was able to challenge for the title all the way up to the final round. He ultimately fell short against Oscar Piastri and Theo Pourchaire, ending the championship in third.

Then, as most of his peers were moving on and up to F2, budget issues held him back a season. 2021 is often perceived as the outlier in Sargeant’s junior career – an off year where he should have really been fighting for the FIA F3 crown.

That, however, is not the case. Only able to fund a more affordable seat, he took a drive at Charouz. Impressively, Sargeant took the perennial backmarkers to four podium finishes (including a race victory) and seventh place in the championship.

For context, he provided 102 of the team’s 127 points that year. His only teammate to score points was Enzo Fittipaldi, who left the team after four rounds.

Last year, Sargeant led all rookies in his sole F2 season, winning on two occasions. Ultimately finishing the season in fourth, he was just a single point behind Liam Lawson, who was in his second season at that level.

Truth be told, Sargeant performed better and more consistently in the feeder categories than results might suggest.

He’s always had a mistake in him, but he’s undeniably quick – there is a lot of potential there, and Williams see that. Sometimes, it takes a little time for that to shine through.

But what about Lawson, Drugovich and Schumacher?

All three make intriguing prospects, but sometimes you’ve got to dance with the one who brung ya. And Williams are a year into a two-year project.

Lawson, the current front-running outside bet, has hit the ground running in his short time in F1. He has a habit of doing that. He’s already scored points for AlphaTauri, which is something that eluded Nyck de Vries and Daniel Ricciardo, in his two races with the team thus far.

He’s impressed in Super Formula this year. And whilst his 2022 F2 campaign was fraught with bad luck, it was unrepresentative of what he could have achieved, having looked like an early contender for the title taken by Felipe Drugovich.

But the main issue with Lawson is that he’s most likely a one-season rental. Why would Williams take a driver on loan who is highly likely to return to a rival team after a year of investment and development? It would make no sense, regardless of whether Lawson is more F1-ready than Sargeant is right now (he is).

Williams are better off steering clear and backing Sargeant, who they’ve already invested so many resources in, through their driver academy and this season.

Disruptor outside bets

Drugovich and Schumacher are less likely at this stage. Although, things can change quickly in F1. Remember when Zhou Guanyu suddenly found himself on the chopping block, only to be retained by Alfa Romeo for a third season?

Of the two, Drugovich is the most difficult to appraise. He destroyed the opposition in F2 last year, but he’s the only one of the three yet to make their F1 debut. Would Williams be setting themselves up for the same thing again?

It’s hard to say. Drugovich had three seasons in F2, whereas Sargeant had just one, so it’s difficult to compare. In those situations, it’s almost always a case of ‘better the devil you know’.

Then there’s Schumacher, who seemingly suffered from landing in an unforgiving environment at Haas. Remember what I said about quarterbacks? And that was that.

Unfortunately for him, the consensus is that he’s had his shot and to be honest, there wasn’t enough evidence from his two seasons at Haas to suggest he’d enjoy an Albon-esque redemption arc at Williams.

For Schumacher, a lot of it comes down to the very reason that Zhou Guanyu was fair game when his seat recently came under threat – two years is about as long as you can reasonably expect to prove yourself.

And it will be the same case if we’re still having this conversation about Logan Sargeant a year from now.

Plus, if Williams were to replace Sargeant with Schumacher and he didn’t pan out, would they be any better than Red Bull?

The right thing

There are a lot of reasons to move on from Sargeant. He currently makes too many mistakes, hasn’t yet found consistent form, is off the pace of Albon and hasn’t scored points this season.

In short, there’s no doubt that he needs to up his game. But in backing him, Williams are doing the right thing by him, the right thing by the team, and the right thing by the sport.

Yes, there may be other options that will provide more immediate results. And yes, there may be prospects with a higher ceiling, or more potential. But none of those drivers currently occupy the second Williams seat. Sargeant does. And that’s the difference.

It’s unquestionable that Sargeant will need to be doing more to keep his seat after two seasons, but he isn’t doing enough to warrant losing it after just one, either.

Featured Image Credit: @LoganSargeant on X

  1. All three are unviable options, all things considered, & if Mick ever were, he stopped being one a while ago.
    Independent teams serving others is a past thing Lawson (& the other two, for that matter) could only join if they were wholly contracted.
    None will happen because otherwise, Red Bull wouldn’t have announced him as a reserve driver alongside the Tsunoda-Ricciardo announcement & if Williams were truly interested in Drugovich, they would’ve offered him a drive after his F2 championship when it had recency relevance & he didn’t have any racing rustiness.
    All in all, Sargeant indeed deserves a second chance because while he hasn’t set the world light, neither has he been a total flop like Latifi last season & most importantly, he quickly proved to be an improvement from him.

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