The sun is shining, a stiff breeze from the coast is taking the edge off the heat, and Logan Sargeant is looking calm and relaxed as a gaggle of journalists surround him.
No, it’s not Miami. That coast is the Caspian Sea and it’s the build-up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Sargeant is being asked about how hard it is to keep his mind off the race that follows.
I’ve hardly helped, sitting down with the Floridian a few moments earlier and immediately telling him to ignore Baku. Miami is on the horizon and it really is the epitome of a home race.
Only Charles Leclerc — who gets to drive the same streets his school bus used to follow when he was a child growing up in Monaco — and Melburnian Oscar Piastri can boast a closer link to a venue than Sargeant.
“I’m pumped up, that’s for sure,” Sargeant tells RACER. “It’s something I’m really looking forward to, just to be able to have done the full loop. I literally started racing 10 minutes down the road from the stadium. And then to have never raced formula cars in America… for this to be my first is pretty special.
“So yeah, it’s definitely a grand sort of homecoming. And in general, I know it’s going to be a tough weekend — it’s going to be hot, humid, physical… It’s a track I’ve never been to; it’s going to be draining in terms of mentally with the media and whatnot. But I’m really looking forward to it. I know the American fans put on a great atmosphere. So I’m looking forward to feeling that as well.”
Sargeant was present for last year’s Miami race, but on that occasion his responsibilities were limited to carrying out media and marketing duties for Williams in his role as one of the team’s driver academy members. He didn’t get out on track, but 12 months later he’s heading into the fifth grand prix of his career, and settling into a race seat that didn’t look to be on the cards at this point in 2022.
“To go into F2 with Carlin, I knew we had a really great opportunity,” he says. “Being realistic, I thought I would have done a second year in F2 at the time. But I know the hard work that we put in last year. So it’s good to see it pay off and in and now it’s sort of restarting that hard work this year and hard work times 100 compared to what we did!”
His rise has been charted before, but Sargeant’s home race provides the perfect excuse to reflect on the past year and exactly how he has developed into a confident F1 driver who has interspersed a few rookie mistakes with some encouraging turns of pace.
“I think just as a whole, really, I feel like I’ve I’ve just gotten a lot more mentally tough than I was at that point (last year),” he says. “Which makes a huge difference in this sport. I’d say it’s probably 80% of it. So I feel like I’ve grown a lot in that in that department.
“And then I feel like category to category, you have a bit of a reset, and then it takes time to build up to where you need to be again. So I feel like I’m still a little bit in that stage at the moment. But I have zero doubt that I’ll be on it pretty shortly.
“To be honest, I’m not too worried about the pace. I know that’s right there in the background. I just need to put it together a little bit better. Again that that comes down to a mental approach, and it’s just about fine-tuning. It’s very easy to go a little bit too far — too aggressive — or a little too conservative. So just trying to find that sweet spot.”
Perhaps Baku provided the perfect example of that struggle for Sargeant, who was quick enough to reach Q2 for the first time on Friday but couldn’t improve on his Q1 lap time, and then repeated the feat in Saturday’s second qualifying session only to hit the wall and rule himself out of the sprint.
It’s not the big errors that Sargeant has been learning the most from over the first few races of his career though, but how high his level needs to be at all times in F1.
“What it’s taught me… I think I already knew it, but it just definitely showed me just how costly small mistakes are,” he says. “You definitely pay for mistakes more in F1 than any other series because everyone’s at such a high level.
“The details matter, and I’d say that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned and it’s now just about being at the top of your game each and every day, which isn’t easy, but that’s what it takes. That’s the biggest thing I’m working towards.”
Sargeant is getting to tread that rookie path with the full support of his Williams team which, despite its American ownership, has been backing him on merit rather than nationality. Team principal James Vowles even recently revealed that he’d evaluated Sargeant for Mercedes in his previous role, and that there’s no pay driver status to be found in the current Williams lineup.
“Yeah, it feels good,” Sargeant says. “Like I said, I know the work I’ve put in. The outside noise, honestly, half the time is a bit ridiculous, it’s normally all lies anyways. But no, it’s nice to have the support.
“To be honest, I’ve had the support from Williams literally since October of 2021, when I joined. I know they have my back. I know they’re doing everything they can to keep helping me improve in F1. And I can promise I’m doing everything on my side to deliver the results for them and work as hard as I can for each and every team member here.”
He might have the backing of his team, but Sargeant is still earning the same from some quarters in the States. After having raced in the European ladder for most of his life, he’s taking a little longer to establish himself with the fan base here, but the 22-year-old is willing to let his performances earn him more fans in future.
“Generally moving into F1, (fan support) definitely grows,” he says. “Of course, I haven’t spent enough time back home yet to really understand exactly what it’s done. So that’s why it’s going to be nice to go home and really see if it’s made an impact.
“I hope it has, but I think at the end of the day, it’s still very early into my career. So we have a lot more work to do. And I’m sure good performances along the way will help that.”
He’ll have plenty in Miami though, with a huge number of requests for tickets heading his way over the past few months.
“Realistically, I’ve probably had close to 100,” he says. “I think that’s a realistic number. It’s been pretty insane. Shout-out to the Miami Grand Prix, they gave me 25 grandstand tickets for some friends and family so that’ll be cool to give those out to the people who have been by my side since the start. It’ll be nice to have some friendly faces in the crowd.”
Twenty-five… Is that enough to call it the “Logan Sargeant Grandstand”?
“I don’t think that aggressive!” he says. “But maybe one day…”