Alexander Rossi has compared Logan Sargeant’s route to F1 with that of Colton Herta, saying the new Williams driver went the “right” way.
Although Rossi remains the last American to race in F1, having contested five grands prix for Manor Marussia in 2015, he will lose that record when Sargeant starts the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix for Williams.
The 21-year-old Floridian has only been with the Williams Driver Academy since October 2021, but moved to Europe to race in karts at the age of eight and has spent much of his formative years on that continent.
That is largely in contrast to another F1 hopeful in Herta, who spent 2015 and 2016 in Europe but then returned to the United States, where he has become one of the leading IndyCar competitors.
Herta had been hoping to move to Formula 1 with a Michael Andretti-operated team, either via a takeover or as a brand new constructor, which has yet to materialise – and he was also denied am FIA Super Licence when AlphaTauri were targeting him as the replacement for Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly.
Rossi has mixed feelings about that situation, but is pleased to see Sargeant given an F1 opportunity having taken what he sees as the ideal path up through the junior categories.
“Logan did it right and I have a huge amount of respect,” Rossi told The Race.
“I know how challenging that is for him and his family and everything, to make that sacrifice and make the move over there [to Europe].
“Because that’s what you have to do. That’s the way it works and so he deserves to get the nod to get into F1.”
On his IndyCar rival Herta, whom Rossi believes is worthy of an F1 seat, the 31-year-old Californian thinks it was right not to make a special case when a Super Licence had not been earned via the points system.
“In some ways, I agree with that decision and how that went down,” said Rossi. “Why should someone like Logan, who moved to Europe and put that sacrifice and time and effort in, why should they get overlooked for someone that didn’t do that?
“But if an F1 team believes someone has the talent and ability to perform in F1, which clearly Colton does and has proven, that shouldn’t necessarily prevent them from getting there.
“The whole Super Licence thing came about as a way to stop people from buying their way into the series. And that’s actually prevented an American from being on the grid.
“It prevented Colton, who has the credentials and the ability, who could have very easily been in whatever situation he was going to be in through Red Bull or whatever.
“So I think there’s certainly a middle ground that needs to be found. And I think that really just comes from IndyCar having a higher scale on the whole Super Licence points situation thing.
“I still think, for now, it certainly seems to be that the only way to get to F1 is kind of go through the European ladder system. But I think hopefully, we’ll see that change a little bit in the coming years.
“I would love to see Colton get a shot because I have a huge amount of time and respect for him.”