Williams rookie Logan Sargeant thinks his recent Formula 2 experience could give him a leg up in Formula 1’s new condensed sprint format.
The F2 weekend format offers far less time for practice than F1’s usual schedule, with drivers allowed only 45 minutes of free running on Friday compared to the three hours ordinarily afforded to their premier-class counterparts across two days.
Qualifying usually follows around two hours later on the same day rather than the next afternoon, with Saturday reserved for the sprint race and Sunday comprising the longer feature race.
This weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the first to be run under the sport’s new sprint rules, which are remarkably similar to the F2 format, particularly with one hour of practice leading into a qualifying session to set the grid for Sunday’s race.
But while some have theorized that the reduced practice time could hinder rookie drivers like Sargeant, the Floridian sees it as an advantage on account of his 2022 F2 campaign.
“It’s difficult going to tracks you don’t know extremely well, but I think this one I’m fairly comfortable coming into,” he said. “It kind of gives me a chance to have an F2 mentality coming into Friday, because it’s an hour of free practice straight into qualifying. I’m fresh off of doing that last year, and I think we’re going to be in for a decent weekend.”
Although the tweaked format has been introduced to try to prompt the drivers to race more aggressively on Saturday, Sargeant is approaching the weekend as a chance to turbocharge progress on his F1 learning curve.
“I’m honestly quite excited to have two qualis and two races — just a chance for me to gain more experience under pressure situations,” he said. “It just gives me a chance to have two goes at it.
“OK, obviously there are more important points to the weekend, but I think it’s a really good opportunity for me to keep building on my experiences. To be able to have two qualis is huge for me, and the sprint race will be a great chance for me to really prep for the GP on Sunday.”
Sargeant also has the benefit of having had a strong weekend at this track last season, having finished second in the feature race from seventh on the grid.
“My first time here was last year, and I really enjoyed the weekend as a whole,” he said. “I got a bit of a different experience here last year, but it ended up working out well and I had a great weekend, so I’m looking forward to being back.”
That race was typically action-packed, with five drivers retiring from crash damage, and Sargeant is primed for more of the same.
“I think it’s going to be eventful,” he said. “I think if you look at it in an opportunistic type of way, then it can be good.
“You’re definitely going to have to keep out of trouble, because I’m sure it’s going to be hectic, but I’m just going to take what’s put down.”