until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Williams makes unusual move in 2023 driver’s superlience quest

by Matt Beer
2 min read

Williams will take the unusual step of running a rookie in Saturday practice at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix in a bid to firm up its prospective 2023 Formula 1 signing Logan Sargeant’s superlicence eligibility.

Sargeant will be Alex Albon’s F1 team-mate next season provided he qualifies for a superlicence by meeting the 40-point threshold.

He should currently be on 30 points via his Formula 3 results and the bonuses for not receiving licence penalty points there, combined with one for driving for Williams in United States Grand Prix Friday practice.

The team intended to run him in three Friday practice sessions towards the end of the season, but the red flags in Mexico FP1 a fortnight ago meant he did not manage the mandatory 100km of running to qualify for the superlicence point there, falling 4km short.

Sargeant therefore gets another outing in Brazil this weekend, taking Albon’s car, but due to the sprint format this will be in the practice session that takes place on Saturday ahead of the sprint race.

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FP1 is the only running before qualifying, so would be an unwise choice for a race driver to relinquish their car.

When the option for teams to run rookies in practice sessions was originally introduced, the rule specified that it had to be in FP1 on Friday. But it was later adjusted to allowing it in any practice session. Sargeant’s run is the first time the option has been used in any session on a Saturday.

Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson admitted the situation was “unusual” and “more difficult than usual as Alex’s car will be in parc ferme [conditions] during FP2” meaning adjustments aren’t permitted as it must race in the subsequent sprint in the same specification in which it qualified.

“However, the experience that Logan will get is invaluable, and giving him another opportunity is a good investment in his future,” Robson added.

“He did an excellent job in Austin and Mexico City, and we are confident that he will do so again despite the unusual weekend format.”

Sargeant will then also drive for Williams in Friday practice at the Abu Dhabi season finale to get a further superlicence point.

Provided he qualifies for the bonus for not getting any penalty points on his licence in the final Formula 2 event at Yas Marina next weekend, he will get enough superlicence points for his 2023 F1 seat as long as he is within the top eight in the final F2 standings. He is currently third.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in the FW44 for FP2 in Sao Paulo,” said the 21-year-old American.

“I can’t wait to keep progressing with the team and building on the experience I gained in Austin and Mexico City.”

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