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Formula 1

Is Williams’ new signing now America’s best F1 hope?

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

After Andretti’s potential takeover of the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo Formula 1 entry failed to materialise, effectively snuffing out the chance of Colton Herta switching from IndyCar any time soon, the prospect of an American driver racing in F1 full-time for the first time since 2007 appeared slim.

But as news of the talks crumbling leaked out of Austin, Williams made the surprise announcement that 21-year-old American Logan Sargeant would join its driver programme.

Sargeant had been forced to turn his back on his F1 dream and had one foot out of the exit door, with a deal signed to test for AJ Foyt in IndyCar this week and a toe firmly dipped into a sportscars career.

However, Williams’ announcement puts his F1 dream firmly back on track with a likely 2022 Formula 2 deal and the potential for him to make his F1 weekend debut in a first practice session.

Sargeant’s IndyCar test was cancelled before it began and he was delighted to receive an opportunity that he’d waited a long time for – and he was quick to make his ambition clear.

Logan Sargeant Williams F1

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Sargeant said following the announcement.

“I’m going to grab it with both hands and get the most out of it. Hopefully in the end that gets us to Formula 1 which is where we want to be.”

Sargeant believes Williams is going through a “really exciting transformation” since new American owners Dorilton Capital acquired the team last year.

And while the timing and location of the announcement are far from coincidental, Sargeant hasn’t been signed because of his nationality.

Logan Sargeant World Karting Championship

Sargeant was soon touted to be America’s best F1 hope after he won the karting world championship in the KFJ class in 2015 (pictured above), and he delivered on his karting promise when he finished third in British F4 two years later, in his first year in car racing.

He finished behind current Alpine junior Oscar Piastri, a driver he’d follow to Formula Renault Eurocup, where he finished ahead of Piastri in fourth place and as the second highest-placed rookie.

But his reputation took a hit when he mustered just five points during a miserable maiden FIA Formula 3 campaign with Carlin, as the British outfit struggled to get to grips with the new car.

A switch to Prema alongside Piastri in 2020 inevitably led to better results, but it also led to a season-long title fight with his Australian team-mate – and late-season charger Theo Pourchaire.

Logan Sargeant Prema Theo Pourchaire ART F3

Sargeant’s title bid collapsed across a disastrous final two weekends of the year at Monza and Mugello, as he was involved in crashes in three of the four races. It meant he slipped to third in the drivers’ championship behind Pourchaire and fell four points short of denying Piastri the title.

While Piastri and Pourchaire graduated to F2, Sargeant scrambled around for the budget to go racing in 2021. He managed to scrape together a last-minute deal with Charouz, who had collected just 20 points across 2019-2020.

Sargeant used his two years of FIA F3 experience to good effect to transform the team’s fortunes, helping to take it from 10th to fifth and scoring the team’s first win in the final round of the season.

“I had a very different job this year to what I had last year,” Sargeant explained. “It was a much more professional situation I guess. I was the leader of the team, I had to come and really push everyone forward and I feel like we did that.”

Logan Sargeant Charouz F3

But all of Sargeant’s achievements still didn’t look like they were going to be enough to convince F1 teams to sign Sargeant, who had been battling F1 juniors for wins and championships for half a decade.

Sargeant didn’t take his rivals progressing onto better things as a negative though.

“It was actually a very big positive for me because I know I matched up just as well as them when we raced each other,” Sargeant added.

“So that was a positive, knowing I could go and do what they’ve done and this year I believed in myself to do that.

“And it was difficult to see them at the next level but in the end of the day it is what it is and you’ve got to keep focussed on moving forward.”

Fortunately, Williams gave him a chance just as he was sounding out options across the pond and elsewhere in Europe.

Logan Sargeant Williams F1

Sargeant’s success next year may well depend on the F2 team that Williams helps him get a seat with. Which team he ends up at may well tell us how much invested Williams really is in his future career.

He’ll also have to shake off any doubts formed by the capitulation of his 2020 F3 title charge, and he’ll be expected to adapt quickly with three years of F3 experience under his belt as most drivers graduate after one or two years in the series.

And Williams is yet to reveal who else will occupy its junior ranks in 2022 and whether or not Sargeant will be its sole hope in F2.

Sargeant might also face stiff competition to remain as America’s best hope of an F1 driver, with 16-year-old Red Bull junior Jak Crawford likely to perform far better in his likely second F3 season next year than the 13th place in the drivers’ championship he managed this year.

Ultimately, Sargeant’s long-overdue appointment to an F1 junior programme is richly-deserved, and while an F1 seat in the future still feels like a longshot, for now, he’s certainly retaken his place as the closest American driver to F1.

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