Williams Team Principal James Vowles says Logan Sargeant must hit “clear targets” to retain his Formula 1 seat for 2024, but insists he remains its primary choice.
Sargeant has endured a challenging rookie campaign and remains the only full-time driver to have competed in every race weekend at this stage yet to score a point.
The American newcomer has been unable to beat team-mate Alex Albon in a competitive session, with the latter responsible for the entirety of Williams’ 21 points this year.
Sargeant has also been involved in a spate of incidents since the summer break. He crashed out in Zandvoort, lost his front wing in Singapore and then sustained a hefty shunt during qualifying at Suzuka.
But despite Sargeant’s position appearing to come under increased pressure, Vowles claims Williams is intent on helping him succeed in reaching the goals outlined for him to secure his drive for next year.
“Logan has very clear targets that he has to hit before the end of the season and we’re working with him continuously,” he said on Williams’ ‘Vowles Verdict’ review.
“That’s the important point: we’re working with him. We want him to succeed, and we want him in the car next year. This is very much on us as well.
“We have taken someone straight from Formula 2 without any significant testing, put a day and a half in Bahrain in this car, and then wished them well on a season that has been awfully challenging for rookie drivers, full stop.”
Vowles has agreed with the view of Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson, who issued that Sargeant’s recent incidents were “masking steady improvement”.
The ex-Mercedes Strategy Director reveals that Sargeant was largely matching Albon in Japan prior to his high-speed mishap, adding that the 22-year-old is also at a disadvantage with the specification of machinery he is receiving compared to his team-mate.
“There were some very positive signs to take out of it,” he argued regarding Sargeant’s Japan weekend. “First and foremost, Logan is not on the same aerodynamic specification as Alex was.
“We have updates that are on Alex’s car that are not on Logan’s due to the amount of attrition we’ve had this year. So often when you see a performance offset, it’s not quite what it would seem on the timing pages.
“Furthermore, to that, if we look at the case of Suzuka, he did a build-up across the weekend. As he went into FP3. he did a time that matched Alex and, as we go into qualifying until the accident, he was overlaying line online within a tenth of Alex’s performance as well, at one of the trickiest circuits of the season.
“So, the progress is there in certain forms, but very clearly being marred by a number of other issues and accidents that have appeared as well.”
With Sargeant having progressed to the pinnacle with Williams’ support, Vowles asserts the team still remains committed to making the partnership work in F1.
“We will continue to work with Logan and invest in Logan, as we want him to succeed,” he added. “He’s on a journey with us as Williams.
“We have a young driver programme that we will continue to invest in. Only at the point where all of us come to the conclusion that we’ve reached the end of that road will we make any decisions. But we’re nowhere near that yet.”