Logan Sargeant could have a big part to play in the 2023 driver market, but how he gets on in Abu Dhabi will be pivotal.
For a few teams the final pieces of their driver line-ups for next season are yet to fall into place, the likes of Alpine, Haas and Alfa Romeo all with one-half of their attack set, while the other side of the garage could still yet be home to a new face or two from 2023.
The same is true over at Williams, and after Nicholas Latifi’s torrid Italian Grand Prix, where he was outqualified and outraced by stand-in team-mate Nyck de Vries, it now looks very likely that Williams will make a change.
But, while there has understandably been a lot of support for De Vries to perhaps take over that seat on a full-time basis, he is certainly not the only contender, while it would seem that he is drawing the interest of Red Bull for their sister team AlphaTauri.
Also driving himself into contention is Sargeant, a member of the Williams Driver Academy, the programme which the Grove outfit has been building up in recent years.
Part of the fold since 2021, the 21-year-old Sargeant, hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the United States, heads into the final round of his Formula 2 season P3 in the standings.
Catching the eye with back-to-back Feature Race victories at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone this season, Sargeant has quietly put himself in the frame for a Williams call-up, though he cannot afford to take his foot off the gas at the final round in Abu Dhabi, even if Felipe Drugovich has already wrapped up the title.
That is because Sargeant must not slip any lower than P5 in the final standings if he wants to obtain his superlicence needed to make it to Formula 1.
His fellow American Colton Herta fell short of the superlicence points needed with Red Bull eyeing him up for a 2023 AlphaTauri drive, so while Sargeant is showing that Herta is not the only American racer on the Formula 1 radar, he must be secure the superlicence to achieve a different outcome to his compatriot.
With 135 points compared to 126 for Jack Doohan, Jehan Daruvala and Enzo Fittipaldi all tied behind, things are very finely poised for Sargeant going into the last two races of the season.
Now, if he does get that top-five finish which he needs to qualify for a superlicence, then Williams would logically rank Sargeant very high in their list of options.
After all, Williams are owned by American firm Dorilton Capital, while it is seen as a potentially lucrative opportunity for a team to get an American driver onboard, considering the surge in popularity which Formula 1 has experienced in the nation.
However, team boss Jost Capito has made it clear that the marketing opportunities with Sargeant will not be a main motivator for promoting him.
“We wouldn’t take him because of that,” Capito confirmed to Motorsport.com. “Either we think he’s ready and he’s capable, or not. He could do another year of F2, or whatever.
“I think he’s ready. Yeah, he needs some points. Of course, if he doesn’t get the points, nothing helps. But yeah, I’m confident that he’s ready, if he gets the points or not.”
That being said, Capito confirmed that Williams’ shortlist stretches beyond Sargeant, if they choose to replace Latifi.
“There’s a good choice of drivers,” he said. “It’s a good choice of young drivers, there’s still some experienced drivers there as well.
“And so I think it’s quite different philosophies, different strategies.
“And in the situation of the team we can work on different strategies. We are not so much in the front that we need two very experienced drivers, so we can experiment a bit, and get young drivers in. So we’ll see what turns out to be best.”
Sargeant will have the opportunity to make his Formula 1 race weekend debut at his home race, appearing for Williams during FP1 ahead of the 2022 United States Grand Prix.