“He seems like a nice guy, I don’t really know him… I’m sure he’ll have some recommendations for restaurants in Miami; I think that’s the only kind of experience he brings!”
Alex Albon is laughing as he describes his relationship with Logan Sargeant, having not yet spent much time with his new Williams teammate. But he thinks the Floridian has a good launchpad for his Formula 1 career.
“I think it’s great timing for Logan to come in,” Albon says. “My rookie year wasn’t that comfortable, but there’s a bit less pressure coming into a situation that he’s come into. It’s good for him to be able to have that.”
Sargeant knows he doesn’t have experience on his side, and he’s joining an unsettled Williams that recently removed its team principal and technical director. But when it comes to the guy he’ll be sharing the FW45 with -–on this occasion simply sharing a stage as the 2023 livery is unveiled – he’s happy with his early interactions as the pair work to refine the new car in the simulator.
“I wouldn’t say (Albon’s passed on) any tips or tricks – I’m sure he keeps those for himself!” Sargeant says. “But just in general he has been a great team player, he clearly wants the best for the team. He understands we have to work together in order for the team to move forward as much as possible. He’s just been very open, very honest, very helpful – everything you could ask for in a team-mate, especially as a rookie.”
With just three days of pre-season testing per team – so 1.5 days per driver – before the season gets underway, it’s a tall order for a new driver to be up to speed at the opening race. Throw in the potential for early reliability issues and it could be even less preparation time.
But Sargeant doesn’t see himself leaning on Albon too heavily. It’s not that the 22-year-old doesn’t feel there could be aspects that would help in the short-term, but he’s confident in his own ability as well as acknowledging how important it is that he gains his own experience to benefit from in future.
“I think at the end of the day I have to trust myself, I have to trust my instincts and what I feel,” he says. “If we feel like we’re heading in different directions in terms of the way the car’s set-up that’s maybe how it has to go, but hopefully it all feels the same and we can move in the same general direction.
“I plan to not rely on him too much; I feel like I have to stand for myself and go through the hard times and the good times and experience all the different things and ultimately that’s what’ll make you better. I want to make this transition as quick and easy as possible – I know there’s going to be challenges, but hopefully I can get on top of it quickly.”
Still, after hoped-for runs in old F1 machinery – as fellow rookies Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries both managed -–didn’t materialize, Sargeant’s got a lot to get on top of. His winter driving preparations have been limited to simulator work and time in a go-kart, but he’s not letting it concern him.
“I did do a bit of karting, and was a bit sore the next day, my ribs were a little banged up!” he says. “It was honestly just a bit of fun, I forgot how difficult it was to be honest with you!
“Of course I want to drive a car and ideally a fast Formula 1 car to prepare, but at the end of the day I have to make the most of what I can do, what’s in my control. It is a short amount of time to get ready but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
In fact, on this first major public appearance of the season as Williams launches its Gulf partnership and livery, Sargeant appears more confident in himself. It’s like he’s grown more into the role of a race driver from a mental perspective, offering more in his answers and with an early-year spring in his step.
That might be something that is expected of a driver about to live out their dream, but Sargeant has been chasing such a chance for a decade now, admitting his family made a decision to try and progress through the European ranks at an extremely young age.
“Originally I moved to Europe when I was 12 to start on the European karting scene,” he says. “I did move with my family initially. A bit scattered to be honest, they lived with me for the first couple of years in Europe, then I lived with the school for a year, which was an experience ,but pretty cool. From there I moved to London and have been there ever since.
“The last few years I’ve been on my own, they come over every once in a while to visit me and check in on how I’m doing. It was difficult at times, a bit lonely sometimes, but obviously all worth it in the end.
“It was early (to move), we were just sort of looking for where the best competition was and it was always Europe, Europe, Europe -–that’s all you heard was that’s where you had to be if you want to go against the best. That was simply the only motivation towards moving over here was to race against the best and see where that led.
“I don’t think it was necessarily completely focused on Formula 1, there’s so many great racing series out there and obviously you want to be a driver professionally, but this was the peak that we were going for.”
Making such a move was a brave decision and left Sargeant needing to be independent once his family moved home to Florida, but perhaps that’s where the desire to stand on his own two feet within the Williams team comes from.
What it has done, is leave him more detached from a potentially huge fanbase in the United States after not having raced a great deal on the American scene. Sargeant is keen to prove himself to fans that will now have more opportunity to follow his story.
“I think there’s definitely room to grow my brand in America, that’s going to be important going forward,” he says. “I think having three U.S. grands prix is going to help. Right now maybe I’m not as popular as some of the other drivers that race in America currently, but I’m going to work to change that.”