The 2023 Formula 1 season has been nothing short of remarkable for the Williams team. After a challenging 2022, they bounced back with the formidable FW-45, showing immense promise. However, one aspect of their campaign has been a source of concern – the struggles of American driver Logan Sargeant. Not only has he been out of form, but he has also been involved in multiple crashes, resulting in significant expenses for the Williams outfit. Now, these costly mistakes are beginning to impact the team’s 2024 budget.
In the midst of these challenges, one shining star for Williams has been Alex Albon. He has consistently earned valuable points for the team, emerging as the true warrior in their ranks for the 2023 season. Williams is experiencing its best Grand Prix year since 2017, largely attributed to the leadership of James Vowles. Vowles has been instrumental in revamping the team’s personnel, tools, and infrastructure, positioning them to compete with the giants of Formula 1.
However, an obstacle in the path of Williams’ progress appears to be their driver pairing. While Albon’s performance has left no room for doubt, the same cannot be said for Sargeant. With zero points and five Did Not Finish (DNF) results this season, his struggles are impossible to ignore.
It’s worth noting that Sargeant has demonstrated flashes of promise. Races in Bahrain, Austria, and Great Britain saw the 22-year-old come tantalizingly close to earning points. Mistakes are part of the game, and he was granted a grace period. However, as of now, the errors seem to outweigh the achievements.
Sargeant has yet to out-qualify Albon this season, with the average difference in their lap times exceeding half a second – a gap larger than any other teammate pairing in the sport. While it’s true that Sargeant has often received updates on his FW-45 later than Albon, resulting in a slower car on many occasions, progress on his part remains a necessity. This is a point he acknowledges, and James Vowles, a supportive team boss, is actively working on creating a more conducive environment for rookie drivers to learn and grow.
However, during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, the former Mercedes strategy director disclosed that Sargeant’s crashes have compromised the development plans for 2024. The team will now need to divert resources towards producing more spare parts, diverting their attention from other crucial aspects of improving their car’s performance.
“Under the cost cap, what you don’t want to be doing is overproducing parts. We’ve had more attrition than expected, I think it’s fair to say.
“We have enough to deal with the incident today [Sargeant’s crash in qualifying].
“But it means we’ll have to divert attention away from other items [for 2024] while producing more spare parts before the end of the year.”