Back in April, F1 Feeder Series exclusively interviewed Florida-born Logan Sargeant. Since then, the 21-year-old Carlin driver has had four podium visits including back-to-back Feature Race victories in July and currently finds himself P3 in the ongoing Formula 2 Championship. On the verge on his first FP1 session at his home Grand Prix in Austin this weekend, we take a look at what makes Logan Sargeant the frontrunner for the second Williams seat for 2023.
By Tyler Foster
Alexander Rossi was the last American to drive in Formula 1, back in 2015 for the now defunct Manor Marussia team, and Rossi didn’t even have a full-time seat that year, having also competed in GP2 in the same season. Since Rossi’s appearances in F1 for Manor in 2015, there have been only four US drivers who have managed to reach Formula 2, however, none have yet managed to graduate beyond. Out of these four, Logan Sargeant is by far the best performing.
There are two key reasons as to why there haven’t been an extensive list of talented Americans racing in Europe in recent years. Firstly, US companies are unlikely to sponsor their own drivers abroad due to the reduced coverage of European junior racing in comparison to that of American competition. Secondly, as a result of this lack of interest, it was more realistic for US drivers to succeed on home soil in their own market. Therefore, less talent from the States took the risk of coming across the Atlantic and trying to make it to F1.
The ‘Drive to Survive’ effect
After seven years without a US driver in ‘the pinnacle of motorsport’ it is a disappointing reality that the largest market is without a true participant. This demand has been strengthened by Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ which has contributed to F1 finally seeing a major breakthrough in the American market. With three separate Grands Prix in the US for 2023 – Miami, Austin and Las Vegas – it would be a shame not to see their fans represented on the grid, beyond Haas. However, with the second seat at Williams up for grabs, there is a chance for a certain American to make his mark.
The Williams Connection
Alexander Albon will have a new teammate next season after it was announced before the Singapore GP that Nicholas Latifi would not have his contract renewed beyond the end of the current year. Oscar Piastri was at one point a candidate to replace the Canadian, with Alpine looking to loan him out, however with the Australian’s situation now finalised with McLaren, he is no longer in contention. This is where Logan Sargeant comes into play.
The 21-year-old from Fort Lauderdale is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Latifi, Lance Stroll and Jack Aitken as Williams Driver Academy (WDA) members who debuted in Formula 1 with the British outfit. Almost exactly one year ago, again on the eve of the USGP weekend, Sargeant joined the WDA and went on to take part in the post-season young drivers’ test at Abu Dhabi.
Since then, Sargeant has had a somewhat remarkable rookie campaign in Formula 2 this year with Carlin. Following the announcement that Williams stand-in Nyck de Vries will be partnering Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in 2023, Logan Sargeant has given himself the best shot of taking the now vacant seat at Williams.
The rise of Sargeant
Back when we interviewed Sargeant in April earlier this year, we discussed the possibility of him making an FP1 appearance with Williams at some point in 2022.
“That’s obviously the goal,” Sargeant said. “Any chance to get in a Formula 1 car is an amazing opportunity. After doing the post-season test [with Williams] last year, all I really want to do is get back in another one. I’m just going to try to perform the best I can and hopefully that arises later in the year.”
The Carlin driver has certainly performed well this season as a rookie in F2 and has achieved his goal of making his F1 debut with a scheduled FP1 appearance this weekend. However, the rise of Sargeant has not been smooth sailing. Having lost out on the F3 title to Oscar Piastri in 2020, he stated that, “at the start of 2021 there was pretty much nothing there.” A last minute signing with Charouz effectively resurrected his career giving him another chance. What followed was an impressive season with a team that had previously finished last, with Sargeant finishing P7 in the standings and scoring Charouz’s first F3 victory.
For 2022, with Sargeant now part of the Williams Driver Academy, he joined Carlin in Formula 2. Partnering Liam Lawson, he has quietly outperformed his more experienced teammate and is ahead of the Kiwi by 12 points going into the final round. Perhaps his biggest achievement is being third in F2 as a rookie, amongst a grid that included 11 drivers who are members of F1 team academies.
While his recent rise may have surprised some, it is difficult to argue that Logan Sargeant has not earned his FP1 opportunity on merit. Furthermore, it is worth knowing that both Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu finished third in their best respective F2 campaigns and have gone on to prove that they are worthy of being on the F1 grid.
Threats to consider
Being an academy member of an F1 team with an available seat, while performing at a high level in Europe’s premier junior single-seater series, certainly makes you a prime candidate. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t threats to Sargeant’s otherwise timely ascent through the ranks.
The biggest worry of all for Williams is that of the dreaded Super License points. This issue has already stopped another American in IndyCar’s prime youngster, Colton Herta, from being able to join F1. Simply put, in order to obtain an FIA Super License a driver needs to score at least 40 Super License points over the three previous years. This enables them them to race in F1.
As of October 2022, with the current F2 season still not finalised, Logan Sargeant has 27 points towards his Super License over the last two years. With 13 points still needed, Sargeant cannot afford to finish lower than fifth in the F2 standings this year. If he fails to do so, he will not be applicable for the second Williams seat. With the Winter Series, FRAC, not offering any seats to drivers in F2 for next year’s edition, Sargeant has no other options but to succeed this year.
The second threat to Sargeant is that of Mick Schumacher. The Haas driver’s future in F1 is extremely uncertain, with the German in danger of being without a seat for 2023. After two years with the US-based team, concerns from both team boss, Gene Haas, and Team Principal, Guenther Steiner, have led to heavy speculation that they will not renew Schumacher’s contract beyond this year.
Gene Haas has admitted that they have spoken to multiple drivers and that no decision will be made until after the Mexican GP at the end of October. This means that the Haas decision may directly influence whether Schumacher becomes available for Williams. Lastly, it has become known that Schumacher will be severing ties with the Ferrari Driver Academy, meaning that he will have no affiliation to tie his future down.
Logan Sargeant isn’t the only rookie tearing up Formula 2 this year. Ex-Red Bull Junior and current Alpine Academy driver, Jack Doohan, is one place and nine points behind Sargeant in the standings, and has had a very similar season statistically to the American.
Alpine previously planned on loaning Oscar Piastri to Williams for 2023, before reintegrating him into their F1 line-up for 2024. With Doohan being a couple of years younger than Sargeant, it certainly would be a risky move to throw him into the deep end at another team. Also, like Sargeant, Doohan is at risk regarding Super License points, and needs to finish within the top five this season in Formula 2 to qualify to race in F1 for next year. However, if there is one thing that F1’s ‘silly season’ has reminded us of, it’s that the unexpected lies around every corner.
Ultimately, partnering Albon with a rookie that has been integrated into the team over the past twelve months, can only help propel Williams forward. The critical thing for Sargeant is to get the most out of his FP1 session on Friday, before going on to finish within the top five in the F2 standings in order to acquire the necessary Super License points. If all goes to plan, we may just see an American driver on the grid again for 2023.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Limited
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