Williams funded Sargeant to F1 after Merc interest - Vowles

Zak Mauger/Motorsport Images

Williams funded Sargeant to F1 after Merc interest - Vowles

Formula 1

Williams funded Sargeant to F1 after Merc interest - Vowles

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Williams team principal James Vowles says he previously considered Logan Sargeant for the Mercedes young driver program before the American was funded through Formula 2 by his current team.

Sargeant was handed a race seat at Williams last season, prior to Vowles being named as team principal in place of Jost Capito, and will make his second Formula 1 start in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend. After a strong first race weekend in Bahrain, Vowles says the performance from Sargeant was instantly impressive and he’s expecting to see further progress from the rookie.

“From the first laps of testing, immediately you could see that the pace was there,” Vowles said. “I was a little bit reticent in wondering whether it would take him a little bit of time to get used to it. The second aspect is, it’s his first grand prix — the pressure on your shoulders is enormous and he took it in his stride.

“He was three-wide through Turn 1. Normally in your rookie race, that ends up in disaster and he just dealt with it, with enormous amounts of maturity. And from then onwards, I’m sure as you’ll see, throughout the year, he’ll step forward.”

There was no reticence on Sargeant’s part when the lights went out in Bahrain. Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Explaining the reticence, Vowles revealed he had been looking at Sargeant earlier in his career when he compared well to Oscar Piastri in Formula 3, but ultimately felt the timing wasn’t right for Mercedes to hire him.

“My path for Logan actually crossed several years prior to that. He came to Mercedes for a sim evaluation and I was interested in looking at him because he had performance, especially when you go back to his Formula 3 performance in an average team. He was there with Oscar and I rate Oscar also highly.

“At the time in Mercedes we had a good suite of drivers. So that was where my relationship with him ended. Prior to me arriving at Williams, Williams funded — it’s very important to state this — his Formula 2 career, so he is now salaried as a professional driver and Williams funded him because they had deep belief that he was the real deal.

“My reticence came from the fact that prior to that it’s difficult to really judge him. But I have to say, he’s now been in the car, I now have the ability to look at his data, and he is here on merit. And as a result of Williams investing correctly in him, he’s now a professional driver, a deserving driver on the grid at the same time. So it just shows you that in my previous life I was wrong and Williams were right!”

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