Williams has announced that 21-year-old American Logan Sargeant will make his Formula 1 weekend debut in its car in free practice at the United States Grand Prix in October.
And the latest shocks in the 2023 F1 driver market have made that move potentially more significant than might have been the case a week ago.
Sargeant is impressing in Formula 2 this season, winning two feature races last month and currently sitting third in the championship in his second year in the series.
He was brought into Williams’s young driver academy scheme ahead of 2022 and drove the team’s 2021 car in the post-Abu Dhabi GP test at the end of last year.
Team principal Jost Capito recently suggested it might be a “great headache” for Williams’s 2023 F1 driver plans if Sargeant went on to win the F2 title, acknowledging that he was in the mix for a race seat next year.
At the time of Capito’s remarks, though, Sargeant still seemed very much a long-shot, with Williams expected to keep Alex Albon and replace Nicholas Latifi by taking Oscar Piastri on loan from Alpine.
The double bombshell of Sebastian Vettel’s F1 retirement and Aston Martin then snatching Fernando Alonso from Alpine to replace him, coupled with the revelation that it was not a foregone conclusion that Piastri would slot in at Alpine in Alonso’s place, has dramatically shaken the driver market picture up and had plenty of implications for Williams.
Although Williams has reportedly indicated it has the contractual right to keep Red Bull loanee Albon, he is thought to be looking at alternative options. He has been linked with the Alpine vacancy and may have already been in contact.
Developments at Alpine have also reduced the chance of the long-expected Piastri/Williams deal going ahead – both because Alpine now sees Piastri as its solution to the loss of Alonso and also amid the belief Piastri’s management is instead trying to get him into McLaren in place of the struggling Daniel Ricciardo.
Should Williams therefore lose Albon and not get Piastri, the prospect of Sargeant getting a 2023 seat suddenly becomes very realistic. He does not currently have a superlicence but his present F2 form puts him in line to qualify for one.
It is understood that Williams had concluded earlier in the season that Latifi’s time there would be done after 2022, but his recent improved form means that the prospect of keeping him as a fallback option if Albon goes may now be more palatable.
A Latifi/Sargeant 2023 line-up at Williams has therefore become one potential outcome of the volatile driver market situation the last six days have created.
Williams sporting director Sven Smeets said of Sargeant’s Austin appearance: “Logan has demonstrated a great level of ability and maturity so far this season through his accomplishments both on and off the track.
“He’s delivered race winning performances in Formula 2 matched by his hard work during simulator sessions.
“It felt only right to reward these achievements with the opportunity for him to take part in a free practice session at Austin.”