It was only a point, and initially a 12th-place finish, but Logan Sargeant is seeking to use his first Formula 1 top 10 as a platform from which to build on.
Williams driver Sargeant put in his strongest display of the season on home soil at the Circuit of the Americas last Sunday and crossed the line behind teammate Alex Albon in 12th, having started last.
That became 10th a few hours after the checkered flag when Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified for a technical infringement. Consequently Sargeant slotted into the top 10 and gained his first championship point.
“I was halfway through my trip from Austin to Florida, going home to see the family for a couple of days, so I was in the middle of the sky,” said Sargeant ahead of this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix, when informed of his achievement. “It was the cherry on top of a really good Sunday. I was already very happy with the race we’d just had, I’d performed very well, and for me to get my first point—and for the team to get three—was a nice little bonus.”
Sargeant became America’s first points scorer since Michael Andretti in 1993 though conceded, “I’m still at the point where I want to do it by crossing the line in the top 10,” and is keen to continue moving forward.
The point came after a challenging few events for Sargeant where an upturn in overall performance has been counteracted by a spate of accidents, most notably in the Netherlands, Singapore and Japan.
Sargeant, who is still using the old-spec Williams front wing that comes with a slight performance deficit to Albon, is now on the board, but teammate Albon has amassed 25 points across the season.
“I think the biggest difficulty is that people are bringing upgrades, we’re not, it’s becoming more and more difficult to be able to do that,” Sargreant said of the possibility of another top 10. “But at the end of the day, as long as I keep having strong performances as I did on Sunday, that’s all I can do. If it happens it happens and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’ve said it before: whether our pace is P16 or P17, it’s not ideal but it is what it is, if it’s P9 or P10, (we have to) make sure we’re doing that. And I think from both of us we were really as high as we could have been on the Sunday and that’s important.”
Sargeant believes he is starting to get on top of the small nuances of Formula 1 that have held him back from optimizing results earlier in the season.
“I think since the summer break it’s been a lot better,” said Sargeant. “There’s been times where qualifying’s been going really well, Singapore I was on a great lap and the gearbox failed, there’s not much I can do about that, Japan I was where I needed to be and I made a silly mistake. It’s not like the pace isn’t there, it’s all coming together, it’s getting better and better, it’s getting stronger and stronger.
“It can be quite surprising how much grip there is, and just trying to understand it, and I feel like I’m closer to understanding where the limit is at all times, that has been very beneficial.
“The biggest thing to keep working on is honestly the little things you’d never really do in junior formula, so, using the tools more, starting earlier in the weekend in that sense, understanding how they can be used to help you more, because there’s so much time there that you might not even realize, but those small things make a big difference, to tire warm-up and stuff like that, and have been talking to Alex a lot more recently just to try and help me on that front and it’s been moving me forward.
“Those are the small things that aren’t natural to me but the more you start to understand them the more you start to extract from them and the amount of time you can find from those things is unimaginable.”
Sargeant pointed to his race in Austin as evidence of his improvement as he strives to prove to Williams that he warrants an extension for 2024.
“I think as well there were points in the race where I made a mistake In Singapore where the tires were degrading,” he said. “It got to a point in Austin where through the second stint the tires were going and I could feel a sense that I was at risk and was quite vocal to change, and I think in the past I wouldn’t have been. I’d just sort of let it catch me out, whereas I knew we needed to get to the last stint, and it’s little things like that that can help you move forward and not make mistakes.
“Now I know how difficult the car can become to drive when the tires are going off. I’m at a point where I knew the strategy, I knew where we were in the race, and if we stopped we’d still make it to the end. I know when I’m losing too much, when there’s too much risk, and probably just need to move on, and I think that’s somewhere I’m getting better at.”