Williams Racing on Logan Sargeant’s development; next targets and being “exceptionally good”

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Picture Credits Williams Racing

Williams Racing’s Logan Sargeant arrived in Jeddah off the back of an impressive F1 debut. An error in qualifying meant the American rookie would have a tough race ahead of him. However, Sargeant once again showed he can find pace in his FW45. Prior to Sunday’s race, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, told print media how well his team’s newest driver is settling in. 


Williams Racing driver Alex Albon had already hit the headlines after scoring a point on the opening race of the 2023 F1 season in Bahrain but could not repeat the feat a fortnight later in Saudi Arabia and was forced to retire on Lap 28 on the streets of Jeddah. His teammate meanwhile had a mammoth task ahead after an error in qualifying meant Logan Sargeant fell at the first stage in Q1 and would start Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from the back of the grid in P20. By the time the chequered flag fell, Sargeant would finish in P16 having learnt many more lessons in his rookie season which will no doubt benefit him later in the year.  


Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, spoke to the print media in Jeddah this past weekend to highlight how well Logan Sargeant is fitting in and how impressed the team are with their rookie driver. The remarks were made before Logan Sargeant’s P16 finish but there is no doubting that they still hold true even after the chequered flag was waved.  


“He’s had a very good weekend, as he did in Bahrain.” Dave Robson said of Logan Sargeant to the onlooking journalists. True enough, qualifying had started well for both Williams Racing drivers and Logan Sargeant lit up the timing screens setting a lap four-tenths quicker than his teammate Alex Albon. Unfortunately, the joy was short lived as it was soon deleted due to the rookie having exceeded track limits. Then with everything on the line for a timed lap, Sargeant spun at Turn 23 and despite keeping it out of the wall – that was the end of his qualifying. 


Dave Robson spoke after qualifying explaining what Logan Sargeant’s next target is: “Keep himself a little bit calmer in that situation and make the following chances work really. I think that is what it is to be a rookie, isn’t it, when you’re playing with such fine margins.” It was fine margins indeed and having impressed on the first high speed circuit of the calendar, was a case of what might have been for Logan Sargeant. Dave Robson made clear how impressed the team are with their newest signing. 


“I think when he drove the car back in Abu Dhabi, he was impressive, and he did a really good job but at the same time the pressure was off a bit and the car was all season with information on it…It’s a big leap to go from a well understood car in Abu Dhabi with little pressure to then you really contribute to the three days of preseason testing.”  


“And actually, from the first moment he stepped in the car, he didn’t put a foot wrong. So, he’s settled in really well. He understands how to get pace out of the car; he understands how to work with the engineers and yeah, he’s been exceptionally good. I think, probably most impressively, the race he put together in Bahrain was really good. I think he’s got a reasonable amount of recognition for that but probably deserves at least that or much more recognition than he’s got.” Robson stated.  


Logan Sargeant’s F1 debut impressed many and confirmed why he had outgrown Formula 2. It is a big step up to the pinnacle of motorsport though and there is no escaping the difference in the size of F1 team personnel compared with F2 teams, but Robson said “I don’t think he’s had a problem with that at all. I think when we first met him way back in Miami last year, I think he was quite daunted by the whole thing, but I think over the course of the sessions, working at the factory and in the simulator, he’s getting to know everyone.”  


Being an F1 driver must be information overload at times with so many new strategies, concepts and settings to learn. Robson continued by explaining how Sargeant has taken to the task and continued to impress along the way: “Over the winter he was obviously very busy, we spent a lot of time just talking to him about things which is not always an easy way to spend a few hours with some engineers trying to bore the pants off a racing driver but to be fair to him you know he listened, took it all in. It means he gets experience of talking to people and understanding the way we look at things…I think he’s taken to it very well.”  


Nevertheless, there is of course still much to learn, and Dave Robson used the outcome of Saturday’s qualifying under the lights in Jeddah to expand on the aspect of his driving, which Logan Sargeant needs to develop.

“As we saw today it is dealing when the pressure’s really wound up and you make, really what was a fairly trivial mistake, though it was expensive. I think it’s having the experience to know that that’s not the end of the world. There’s plenty of time left in the session and you don’t have to go out there and force it. The pace of the car was clearly there in that run and that really does just come with experience to be able in the moment to take a big deep breath put it out of your mind and crack on…that’s probably the main thing I’m sure there will be other racing incidents that will come up.” said Robson. 


F1 is certainly a big-time sport more than ever and as such has many big personalities. Handling these was also an area Dave Robson said needs to be examined when speaking of Logan Sargeant’s development “You just need the experience how do you deal with these other 19 Formula One racing drivers on the track at the same time. That’s not easy. To some extent you need to understand the personalities of them all and know who you can and can’t dice with…in terms of driving the car and working with the team he’s pretty much there.”


Performances in recent seasons have seen Williams Racing as pretty much a ‘one driver team’ point scoring wise and the question was put to Dave Robson as to whether it is the first time in several seasons that the team had two well matched teammates in Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant. His reply paid tribute to the work of former team member Nicholas Latifi and also showed the excitement within the team at present. 


“I suppose to some extent that’s true. I think Nikki [Latifi] had plenty of pace just struggled to put it together and really keep the other driver honest when it really counted but he did contribute a lot to the team and everything – so he did play his part. Obviously, with Logan we’re only two races in but his pace relative to Alex has been good and we need someone to keep pushing Alex along. So, I think time will tell but at the moment it feels good. I know that finishing twelfth in Bahrain certainly gave that side of the garage a bit of a lift which is good thing because they put in a lot of work, the mechanics particularly, so to be the first race quite close to a teammate I think that’s good for them.” explained Robson. 


As for Sunday’s race performance on the streets of Jeddah by Logan Sargeant, the team’s official website posted Dave Robson’s post race remarks: “Logan’s race was compromised by the Safety Car, which left him with a lengthy stint on the Medium tyre and a defensive race against a close group of cars. He eventually lost a few places to faster cars but gave a good performance in his 2nd Formula 1 race. We can take a lot of positives away from this weekend but at the same time we missed a good opportunity to score some more points and we must make some improvements to succeed in a very tight midfield.” 


Prior to his move to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, George Russell had been learning his F1 craft at Williams Racing. The British racer impressed many – hence his move to the silver arrows – but was well supported by Williams enabling him to get there. On this point Robson said, “I still like to think George [Russell] owes us a beer or two”.  


With Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant both showing impressive speed early on this season, there is every chance other teams may try tempting them away from the corridors of Grove. Dave Robson is aware momentum is key and said, “The whole team is going in the right direction, if the car gets better, we can keep these two guys for a good number of years.”  


With Williams Racing already out in front ahead of a ‘pointless’ AlphaTauri and McLaren they certainly look the best positioned of the three to stay there.

Williams Racing had a very good weekend in Bahrain, a slight stall in Jeddah but could yet have a very good season in 2023.