Williams chose Logan Sargeant to race in Formula 1 in 2023 based on his impressive Formula 2 performances this season and not his nationality, according to team principal Jost Capito.
Sargeant will make the step up after just one year in F2 as long as he secures the required Super License points at the final round in Abu Dhabi next month. The move is set to make him the first American to race in F1 since Alexander Rossi in 2015. At a time when the sport is booming in the States, Capito admits it’s a bonus that Williams is bringing a home favorite to the grid but that the call was based purely on his talent.
“I would say it’s good for Formula 1 to have an American driver (on the grid),” Capito said. “We didn’t pick Logan in the academy because he’s American; we picked him because of his success and his past in racing.
“If we put kids in the academy it’s the objective to get them in the Formula 1 car,” he continued. “So then I think it’s true for young drivers that if you have a driver ready for Formula 1 and you have a seat, you have to put this young driver into the seat otherwise you’ve done something wrong. That’s why we came to the conclusion that it’s the right thing. That Logan is American is just nice to have, but it’s not the initiation of the decision.”
On timing, Capito explained that, “From Silverstone onwards we said, ‘OK Logan is ready to be in Formula 1,’ But of course that was so early in the season that you can’t make a commitment because there’s so many things to come… When we’d seen that Logan is a race winner in F2, then we said, ‘OK he is ready for next year,’ but it was still too far away, so we had to talk to other drivers as well and sort out the options. That helped us to take the final decision and also cover the risk if Logan, for whatever reason, would not get the Super License, but we believe he will get the (required points).”
To secure his Super License, the 21-year-old needs a top-five championship finish in F2 and currently sits third overall. He could also afford to drop to sixth assuming he picks up the two extra Super License points for FP1 runs in Mexico and Abu Dhabi — track time that Capito says has a double benefit.
“We want to make the risk as low as possible and on the other side we want to prepare Logan as well as possible for next season,” he said. “That means he has to maximize the time in the car for this year, so that’s why we will give him three FP1s and it gives him additional Super License points which are not hurting. We’ll also do the Young Driver Test after Abu Dhabi, so it’s part of the preparation now to get Logan into the best possible position for next season.”
The announcement leaves Williams open to the unlikely scenario of having named Sargeant but the Floridian missing out on the required points, in which case Capito says a contingency is already in place.
“Yeah (there’s a back-up plan), but not a concrete one — not a name. There will be some drivers who don’t get a contract and are still very good drivers and have a Super License.”
Sargeant himself says the announcement is vindication of his decision to pursue a racing career in Europe rather than America in order to try and reach F1.
“I just feel like I’ve been putting in all the hard work in Europe throughout my career and made that commitment early that this was the route I wanted to take,” Sargeant said. “I feel like it’s just been a long road of dedication and hard work that’s got me to this point, and I still need to go out and earn it in the last round.”