Williams say they believe in Logan Sargeant, giving his car to Alex Albon proves they don’t

Sam Cooper
Logan Sargeant

Logan Sargeant looks likely to sit out the race in Melbourne through no fault of his own.

To their credit, Williams have stuck by Logan Sargeant up until now.

After a lacklustre rookie season, the team decided to keep the American on – albeit making a late call in the year – and insisted he had more to give than the one point he scored in 2023.

Alex Albon to race in Logan Sargeant’s Williams at Australian GP

Team boss James Vowles spoke of improvements and targets Sargeant needed to make, hinting that the 23-year-old did have a long-term place in the team – but any trust Sargeant may have thought he had earned from Williams has been wiped away by the submission of an entry form.

In FP1, Alex Albon lost control of his car coming out of Turn 6 and smashed hard against one wall before hitting the other side of his car on the opposing barrier. The result was a FW46 that was beyond salvageable.

The Grove team were in need of a new tub – or chassis or monocoque to give it another name – but the problem was the nearest one was 10,000 miles away in Oxford.

Of all the teams for this to happen to, it is perhaps Williams who would be most hamstrung by a crash of this magnitude. Vowles admitted it was a rush to get the car ready for 2024 so it should come as no surprise that they are lacking spare parts at this early stage of the year.

But with one car down, the conversation quickly turned to who would be driving the other one.

Car swapping in Formula 1 is not something entirely unheard of but it has been many a year since we have seen it take place.

The most memorable example came in 1951 when Juan Manuel Fangio took the Alfa Romeo of Luigi Fagioli, who was several laps down, and drove it to first place, becoming the first of three occasions where two drivers were credited with a win after sharing a car.

But the fact that it is Fangio that is mentioned should demonstrate just how long ago this was.

In the modern era and with the increase in reliability, the need to swap cars has been done away with. Until now.

The prospect of Albon driving this weekend appeared more likely as the hours ticked by with Sargeant finding his Williams car being repossessed ahead of the race in Melbourne.

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He described it as “the hardest moment I can remember in my career” while Albon said “I would never want anything like this to happen” – which clearly did not stop him from taking the car.

Meanwhile Vowles explained the decision by saying “every race counts”, implying, as far as Sargeant is concerned at least, they would be throwing this one away.

This naturally leads to the question: what on earth will Sargeant be feeling like now?

A look down the other nine teams and it is hard to see anywhere this scenario would be accepted.

Even in similar situations where an experienced driver is partnered with a relative rookie such as McLaren, Oscar Piastri is unlikely to be willing to give up the keys to his car because of a mistake made by Lando Norris.

Sargeant may well be strong-armed into this but it was a chance for Williams to put their money with their mouth is and yet they seem to have said one thing and done another.

Martin Brundle described it as a “no-brainer” to swap the pair out, his Sky F1 colleagues were in agreement, but this move looks the final nail in an F1 career that was already hanging by a thread.

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