James Vowles says frustration for Logan Sargeant has been there for long in F1 2023 as Williams continue to back the American.
With 19 seats set for the 2024 F1 season until any late changes, the sole remaining seat is at Williams alongside Alexander Albon. His current teammate Sargeant remains the favourite as the team continues to back him up despite some struggles.
He is yet to score a point and has had several incidents off-late which is piling up the pressure. He has shown glimpses of matching Albon, but all in vain thus far. There has been some costly mistakes leading to crashes and significant repair work.
The incidents have come at a time when the pressure is piling up on him. But Williams is keeping their faith on the F1 rookie. “He and I talk at least once a week, if not multiple times a week,” said team boss Vowles. “The pace is there. That’s the thing that we wouldn’t be able to fix or repair – but what happens is, when it comes down to the crunch time, there are elements of inconsistency that creep in, and in form of that, goes into an accident sometimes.
“Like in Suzuka the lap he did was, line-on-line on the data with Alex, but obviously it’s marred by the fact that the last corner, he had far too aggressive a throttle application and there was a crash, and a significant crash as a result of it. What we’re working with him on is actually the progression up until that point.
“And it’s actually keeping that mindset all the way through that we’re trying to do. We have – and I’ve said this publicly – a responsibility to invest in our rookie drivers. We’ve put him there, and we’ve given him nearly no testing mileage. I’m used to 30,000km, not 850km. But what we want to see is continued progress and now a focus on making sure we keep that consistency in there, which will then deliver results,” summed up Vowles.
In an interesting revelation, the Williams chief noted about Sargeant’s frustration from the get go in Bahrain with the gap between him and Albon only increasing as the season progressed. The team is trying to help him and guide him to get those results.
Vowles knows that Sargeant can do it as he has done so in F2 and F3. As of now, with other names rumbling in, Williams is waiting until the end of the year to take any decision. “I think from him the frustration has been there for many months actually. He went into Bahrain – probably the worst thing that can happen – he went into Bahrain overlapped with Lando in terms of Q1, and he thought perhaps the challenge in front of him may not be as significant as it really is,” he said.
“What you then saw after that time… and Alex has grown, I think, across this season, and the gap started to grow, as you found a driver that’s now frustrated, his normal tools aren’t producing the quality of lap-time that was there previously. He knows how to win. He’s won in Formula 3, won in Formula 2 but applying that now in Formula 1 and then not achieving results creates more and more frustration – and then that ends up with over-driving, fundamentally.
“That’s the dialling back bit. As for the future, I suspect the decision will be to the end of the season. I think we’ve already committed to the direction of travel we’re in, he has targets to that and it’d be wrong to go against that decision point. So end of the year,” summed up Vowles.
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