Logan Sargeant says he was surprised that Valtteri Bottas didn’t opt for the inside line during the incident that saw the pair make contact in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Bottas lined up ahead of Sargeant on the grid but dropped to the back of the pack after requiring a trip to the pits at the end of Lap 1, having picked up a puncture following contact on the run to Turn 1 with Alex Albon.
The Alfa Romeo sized up a move on Sargeant into the Turn 11 hairpin on Lap 5 but the American locked up and clattered into the side of Bottas, sending him spinning.
Sargeant admits he was puzzled that Bottas elected to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre around the outside of the cambered corner.
“From my side, from the second I touched the brake in Turn 11 I was locked,” Sargeant explained. “I thought he would have seen it and gone inside because I was never gonna make the corner.
“But once he went to the outside there was nothing I could do to avoid it, I tried to stop it. I thought he might have seen it to try and avoid it.”
However, Sargeant admitted the blame entirely lay with him for the collision.
“Yeah, it’s my fault,” he conceded. “For his sake and mine if he just would have just gone underneath me we would have avoided the whole thing, but I guess he must not have seen it.”
The race stewards agreed with Sargeant’s assessment, ruling that he was “predominantly to blame”, handing him a five-second time penalty and two penalty points.
“Bottas left plenty of room for Sargeant while he came alongside. Sargeant braked late, locked his tyres and thereby caused the collision,” their report summarised.
The clash resulted in Bottas retiring only two laps later after relaying that his car had become “undrivable”, while Sargeant’s race was also brought to an end come Lap 22.
Williams cited damage from the collision as the reason for Sargeant’s retirement.
Asked if he was aware how bad the damage was, Sargeant responded: “I’m not sure, I think just from the contact [the team were] worried about the health of the car.”
Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW45. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day.
An early end to his race compounded a miserable maiden outing for Sargeant, who set off from the pit lane after enduring a hefty shunt in qualifying on Saturday.
The rookie got out of shape at the final corner and ended up in the barrier, leaving his Williams crew with an overnight repair job to get his FW45 ready for race day.
Alex Albon defended his inexperienced team-mate’s latest mishap, contending that he had also been struggling with the car through the final sector.
“I spoke with Alex personally, just talking through it all,” he said regarding the crash.
“I think it was a high tailwind corner, rear overheating was there, I knew it was a difficult corner, but in the end of the day it’s no excuse. It might have been tricky but no reason to put it off.”
Sargeant believed he was stringing together a positive weekend up to that point, something he reiterated when prompted to discuss his main takeaway from Japan.
“I think the positive for the whole of the team is we had really good pace as a whole,” he documented. “Alex [was] really close to Q3 and I don’t think I was far from him yesterday.
“I think the biggest negative is we did struggle in the race, we struggled in the long runs on Friday and obviously the damage. But I think the positive to take is we were really strong on Friday.”