Williams believes Logan Sargeant’s recent spate of high-profile crashes are masking the progress the young American has been making in terms of pace during his rookie Formula 1 season.
Sargeant reached Q3 for the first time in Zandvoort but then crashed heavily on his first run in damp conditions, before also crashing out of the race when he suffered a hydraulic issue linked to a curb strike. In Singapore Sargeant hit the wall and break off his front wing during the grand prix, while Japan saw him severely damage the car when he went off at the start of Q1. Head of vehicle performance Dave Robson says that while Sargeant needs to iron out the errors, there are underlying positive signs.
“I guess inevitably they catch the headlines, don’t they? And they’re obviously quite visible,” Robson said of Sargeant’s string of wrecks. “But I think it has kind of masked his steady performance, and (Japan) was actually going really well. It’s such a difficult circuit to come to and find the lap time, and he went about it really well on Friday, built on that (in FP3) and then to lose it in the very last corner of the first lap…
“And really it was quite a minor mistake; it’s just at that corner, once you touch the grass you’re in a whole heap of trouble. That was a real shame, but I think it is fair to say the crashes since Zandvoort have masked what otherwise has clearly been some steady improvement.”
As for their impact to the team’s budget cap, Robson insists Sargeant’s crashes haven’t put Williams in any trouble financially but concedes that his performance potential might start being limited by the specifications of parts he has to run if new versions are in shorter supply.
“Yeah (it’s getting close to the budget limits)… But I think most people will be similar, won’t they? I think most people will spend up to the budget cap, it’s just about how much you hold in reserve. But we’re kind of consuming parts we already owned for the most part, so it’s expensive but it’s not limiting at this point in the season.
“To some extent you end up having to drop back on specs because for all of the long-lead items — and then having to ship them around the world — it’s already too late to make more new ones, really, even if you had the money and the time to do it. So you inevitably make do.”